verb (used with object)

to force (a person) into military or naval service.
to coerce (a person) into taking a certain action, political stand, etc.: to be press-ganged into endorsing a candidate.

press gang

or press·gang


a body of persons under the command of an officer, formerly employed to impress others for service, especially in the navy or army.

Origin of press gang

First recorded in 1685–95 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for press-gang

Historical Examples of press-gang

  • The press-gang was soon on board us, and its officer asked to have the crew mustered.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • "The press-gang's the best friend the Yankees has," said he a little sheepishly.

    The Frozen Pirate

    W. Clark Russell

  • I knew a press-gang was in the neighbourhood, but never thought of their coming our way.

  • The press-gang had originally nothing to do with "pressing."

  • One or two of the press-gang, who had muskets, fired, but they were not good shots.

British Dictionary definitions for press-gang

press gang


(formerly) a detachment of men used to press civilians for service in the navy or army

verb press-gang (tr)

to force (a person) to join the navy or army by a press gang
to induce (a person) to perform a duty by forceful persuasionhis friends press-ganged him into joining the committee
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 press-gang

1690s, from press (v.2) + gang (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper