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

The four family members arrived in Denmark late last month and took the boat, dubbed Verbena, out for a for a few short shakedown sails. Scott Kirsner,, "Sailing like entrepreneurs: High-seas adventure, education await family of Workbar founder," 5 Aug. 2019 Yet for all the savagery dealt out to the immigrant — the callousness of his government, the shakedowns of the coyotes and cartels, the exploitation of his labor by new American employers — the immigrant himself is not entirely innocent. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "The Selfish Actors of Illegal Immigration," 16 July 2019 Moreno’s alleged shakedown of the Colombian politician, who was secretly working undercover for U.S. authorities, led to the high-ranking Colombian official’s arrest in Bogotá a year ago. Jay Weaver, miamiherald, "He was Colombia's anti-corruption chief. Now, he's facing bribery charges in Miami.," 19 May 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Corrupt mainland officials could also shake down Hong Kong businesses with the mere threat of extradition. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "How the U.S. Can Help Hong Kong," 16 June 2019 Of the 128, many were shaken down by earthquakes; many now are closed. Frances Mayes, National Geographic, "Discover Italy’s most delicious secret," 11 July 2019 Upgrading characters makes those abilities more powerful, but locking it behind a paid, random loot box system feels like shaking down players for real-world cash. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Dr. Mario World feels more like Candy Crush than the classic NES game," 8 July 2019 Oakland was the first city to have an outside agency come and review their police force due to complaints in the late 40s when a lot of shipyard workers were complaining about getting shaken down by OPD. David Debolt, The Mercury News, "How Bruce Lee, a bus called ‘Aunt Clara,’ and 500 gallons of patrol car booze have a place in East Bay history," 23 June 2019 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

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

9 Aug 2019

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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

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of or relating to the heavens

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