or high·jack

[ hahy-jak ]
/ ˈhaɪˌdʒæk /

verb (used with object)

to steal (cargo) from a truck or other vehicle after forcing it to stop: to hijack a load of whiskey.
to rob (a vehicle) after forcing it to stop: They hijacked the truck before it entered the city.
to seize (a vehicle) by force or threat of force.

verb (used without object)

to engage in such stealing or seizing.


an act or instance or hijacking.

Origin of hijack

1920–25, Americanism; back formation from hijacker
Related formsan·ti·hi·jack, adjective
Can be confusedhijack kidnap shanghai skyjack
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for hijack



/ (ˈhaɪˌdʒæk) /


(tr) to seize, divert, or appropriate (a vehicle or the goods it carries) while in transitto hijack an aircraft
to rob (a person or vehicle) by forceto hijack a traveller
(esp in the US during Prohibition) to rob (a bootlegger or smuggler) of his illicit goods or to steal (illicit goods) in transit


the act or an instance of hijacking
Derived Formshijacker or highjacker, noun

Word Origin for hijack

C20: of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for hijack



1922, American English, perhaps from high(way) + jacker "one who holds up." Originally "to rob (a bootlegger, smuggler, etc.) in transit;" sense of "seizing an aircraft in flight" is 1968 (also in 1961 variant skyjack), extended 1970s to any form of public transportation. Related: Hijacked; hijacking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper