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 Check out the video premiere of Kreutzmann's shakedown below. Joe Lynch, Billboard, "Warren Haynes Announces Live Christmas Jam Album & Movie," 30 Oct. 2019 Completing the triumvirate of summer shakedowns were Barcelona, who finally brought in a non-Lionel Messi figure who could take a game by the scruff of the neck by himself., "Autumn Brings Status Quo in La Liga After Summer Where Everything Looked Like Changing," 7 Oct. 2019 Harford County corrections deputies found unknown suspected drugs last week during shakedowns at the Harford County Detention Center. Erika Butler,, "Suspected drugs found during shakedowns at Harford detention center last week," 26 Sep. 2019 There’s the alleged Easter Sunday shakedown, in which Vela forced a family that already had reserved a pavilion at Rodriguez Park to pay her and her chief deputy $50 an hour, according to family members. Gilbert Garcia,, "San Antonio constable will give federal and state agents plenty to investigate," 25 Sep. 2019 As Representative Castro’s shameful actions show, our current disclosure laws threaten public safety, allow political shakedowns, and punish those who are not in sync with the priorities of the political establishment. Jeremy Carl, National Review, "We Need Donor-Privacy Legislation Now," 12 Aug. 2019 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb On Easter Sunday, she was accused of shaking down a family for cash after its members refused to vacate a picnic site to make way for Vela’s family. Scott Huddleston,, "Bexar County commissioners move a step closer to ousting controversial constable," 2 Oct. 2019 No, a September indictment alleges the Democrat did much of his shaking down personally., "a recording obtained by the Fall River Herald News.," 17 Oct. 2019 The lies, coverups, shaking down foreign countries & undermining our democracy will be recorded as one of the worst periods in the history of our country, all led by a dishonorable con man. Breanna Edwards, Essence, "Maxine Waters Says Trump Should Be Imprisoned And Placed In Solitary Confinement," 2 Oct. 2019 As if to underscore that, officials said Monday the five men killed Sunday at a bar in the resort of Acapulco were allegedly part of a gang of extortionists who shook down business owners for protection payments. Washington Post, "Mexico sets 1st half murder record, up 5.3%," 22 July 2019 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

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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Time Traveler for shakedown

Time Traveler

The first known use of shakedown was circa 1730

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Statistics for shakedown

Last Updated

15 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Shakedown.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 5 December 2019.

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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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