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

Noun 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. Verb 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 Correia also allegedly extorted money from the people who were in on his shakedowns — people who were in a position to turn on him. Yvonne Abraham,, "The fallout from the fall of Fall River’s mayor," 7 Sep. 2019 The comment alone is potentially destabilizing and sounds like a mob shakedown. Washington Post, "Trump again appears to take North Korea’s side against his own military, allies," 11 Aug. 2019 Nike and federal prosecutors thus insist that Avenatti, who has more than 773,000 Twitter followers and swift access to national media, attempted an unlawful shakedown. Michael Mccann,, "How the Michael Avenatti Case Could Disrupt the Basketball World," 19 Aug. 2019 In October, Combs set a new top speed of 483.2 mph in a shakedown run. Doug Criss, CNN, "Jessi Combs remembered for being more than just a race car driver," 29 Aug. 2019 The comment alone is potentially destabilizing and sounds like a mob shakedown. Author: David Nakamura, Simon Denyer, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump again appears to take North Korea’s side against his own military, allies," 10 Aug. 2019 As is Dance Moms tradition, the competition lead to a verbal shakedown between the two young dancer's mothers. Laura Hanrahan, Woman's Day, "Watch 'Dance Moms' Stars Elliana Walmsley and Lilly Ketchman Recreate Jojo Siwa’s Solos," 27 July 2019 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The two cities are dangerous, with consistent reports of migrants being kidnapped or shaken down for bribes. Washington Post, "US, Mexico widen asylum crackdown to push back all migrants," 28 Aug. 2019 Mr Assad is shaking down cronies to cover the bill. The Economist, "Syria’s war is drawing to a close. But the pain will go on," 5 Sep. 2019 Blagojevich tried to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat and shake down, among others, an executive from a children’s hospital for campaign money. Rex Huppke,, "Column: What the (BLEEP) just happened? Rex Huppke’s ‘Week in Review’," 22 July 2019 His other convictions included trying to shake down a Chicago children’s hospital. Washington Post, "Trump, getting facts wrong, says he may free Blagojevich," 9 Aug. 2019 This is just yet another clunky attempt by MLB to shake down a city, any city, for a ballpark. Joe Sheehan,, "Rays' Outrageous Montreal Plan Only Exists to Get New Stadiums Built—Again," 2 July 2019 Later, the enforcer and the mobster’s son tried to shake down the shipper for $10,000 more by pointing a pistol at his knee and head, the indictment says. Max De Haldevang, Quartz, "Fraudsters made a local panhandler president of a shell company to hide their scheme," 12 Sep. 2019 Shortly thereafter, Avenatti was indicted and accused of trying to shake down Nike. oregonlive, "Avenatti demands more documents from Nike," 6 Sep. 2019 Companies such as Acacia Mining have been shaken down for huge tax bills. The Economist, "Another critic of President John Magufuli is silenced," 1 Aug. 2019

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

18 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for shakedown

The first known use of shakedown was circa 1730

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More Definitions for shakedown


How to pronounce shake down (audio)

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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an agreement to stop fighting a war

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