shake·​down | \ ˈshāk-ˌdau̇n How to pronounce shakedown (audio) \

Definition of shakedown

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an improvised bed (such as one made up on the floor)
2 : a boisterous dance
3 : an act or instance of shaking someone down especially : extortion
4 : a thorough search
5 : a process or period of adjustment
6 : a testing under operating conditions of something new (such as a ship) for possible faults and defects and for familiarizing the operators with it

shake down

shook down; shaken down; shaking down; shakes down

Definition of shake down (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to take up temporary quarters
b : to occupy an improvised or makeshift bed
2a : to become accustomed especially to new surroundings or duties
b : to settle down

transitive verb

1 : to obtain money from in a deceitful, contemptible, or illegal manner racketeers shaking down store owners for protection
2 : to make a thorough search of
3 : to bring about a reduction of
4 : to give a shakedown test to shook down the vessel before its maiden voyage

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Examples of shakedown in a Sentence


He was the victim of a shakedown by a street gang. The guards conducted a shakedown of the prisoners' cells to look for weapons. They're putting the system through a shakedown.


the rumor is that he started his career shaking people down as an enforcer for the mob
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Apollo 9 was a shakedown cruise in Earth orbit, with the command module and the lunar lander practicing the orbital rendezvous that would be necessary for the moon mission. The Washington Post,, "How did NASA put men on the moon? One harrowing step at a time," 19 June 2019 Inside, a pair of company engineers is performing a shakedown flight to validate the design. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "A 10-Year Odyssey: What Space Stations Will Look Like in 2030," 10 June 2019 The lawyer for Tammy Lawrence-Daley issued a statement Friday in response to the Majestic Elegance Punta Cana resort, which accused her client of going public with her allegations after an attempted $2.2 million shakedown, People reported. Robert Gearty, Fox News, "US tourist beaten during Dominican vacation accuses resort of victim blaming," 9 June 2019 Unlike Apollo 8’s spectacular moon voyage, Apollo 9 never left low earth orbit, but its mission was essential: fly the ungainly-looking lunar module on a shakedown cruise. Ernie Mastroianni, Discover Magazine, "Travel With Apollo 9 As They Launch to Space 50 Years Ago," 1 Mar. 2019 All new ships undergo problems, and Ford’s shakedown period is doing exactly what it is supposed to. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "America’s Newest Aircraft Carrier Suffers a Breakdown," 8 May 2018 The law has been credited with reducing cancer-causing chemicals, but it has been criticized for leading to quick settlement shakedowns and vague warnings that are often ignored. Washington Post, "California moves to clear coffee of cancer-risk stigma," 17 June 2018 The law has been credited with reducing cancer-causing chemicals, but it has been criticized for leading to quick settlement shakedowns and vague warnings that are often ignored. Brian Melley,, "California moves to clear coffee of cancer-risk stigma," 16 June 2018 The law has been credited with reducing cancer-causing chemicals, but it has been criticized for leading to quick settlement shakedowns and vague warnings that are often ignored. Washington Post, "California moves to clear coffee of cancer-risk stigma," 17 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Whenever Kevin Durant comes back and whether Klay Thompson plays in Game 3 or not, the Raptors aren’t about to be shaken down to their claws. Tom Fitzgerald,, "Raptors aren’t dreading Kevin Durant’s return, whenever it happens," 4 June 2019 His militia was also implicated in running protection rackets and shaking down small and large businesses alike. Washington Post, "Public enemy or savior? An Iraqi city could reveal the true Moqtada al-Sadr," 4 July 2018 Cruises shake down local economies — and their own workers Roger W/Flickr/Creative Commons Klein is also the author of the book Cruise Ship Squeeze, which details how cruises take advantage of local economics. Aditi Shrikant, Vox, "The case against cruises," 15 Nov. 2018 Scores of Central Americans have fallen to their deaths jumping on trains or been shaken down by Mexican police, murdered, kidnapped, robbed or raped on their way to the United States. Julie Watson, Fox News, "'Suffering' ends with Honduran baby back in parents' arms," 21 July 2018 Vila Kennedy resident Pierre Lopes de Juno, 38, said he was shaken down by a police patrol one night this month. Anthony Faiola And Marina Lopes, Washington Post, "Stop and search? This poor community in Rio says yes, please.," 25 Mar. 2018 The couple’s recent headline-grabbing cases include successfully defending an ICE agent accused of trying to shake down a drug organization, and representing a woman accused of submitting false claims to Medicare and Medicaid. Annie Linskey,, "Why Trump has struggled to assemble a legal team," 21 Apr. 2018 On two occasions, Henríquez said, Cindy had been robbed by gang members who boarded her bus and shook down the passengers. Joshua Partlow, Washington Post, "The story behind the girl in the recording who begs for her aunt after being separated from her migrant mother," 21 June 2018 Corruption Corruption has long been endemic in Mexico, with reports of local police shaking down civilians or politicians accepting bribes a near-daily occurrence. Ciara Nugent, Time, "Your Complete Guide to Mexico's 2018 Elections," 29 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shakedown.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of shakedown


circa 1730, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1859, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

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Statistics for shakedown

Last Updated

28 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shakedown

The first known use of shakedown was circa 1730

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More Definitions for shakedown



English Language Learners Definition of shakedown

US : the act of taking something (such as money) from someone by using threats or deception
US : a thorough search of something
: a thorough test of a new ship, airplane, etc., in order to make sure there are no problems or defects

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shakedown

Comments on shakedown

What made you want to look up shakedown? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an act or instance of editing or removing

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