or shake-down

[ sheyk-doun ]
See synonyms for shakedown on
  1. extortion, as by blackmail or threats of violence.

  2. a thorough search: a shakedown of prison cells to uncover hidden drugs.

  1. a bed, as of straw or blankets, spread on the floor.

  2. any makeshift bed.

  3. the act or process of shaking down.

  4. Also called shakedown cruise, shakedown flight . a cruise or flight intended to prepare a new vessel or aircraft for regular service by accustoming the crew to its features and peculiarities, breaking in and adjusting machinery, etc.

Origin of shakedown

First recorded in 1490–1500; noun, adj. use of verb phrase shake down Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use shakedown in a sentence

  • One might hypothesize the maid was part of a scam to shake down any rich old man in a luxury suite.

    The Martyrdom of DSK | Christopher Dickey | July 5, 2011 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • But not everyone does: Courtship is a massively multiplayer game whose rules shake down differently for each player.

    Give Up on Mr. Perfect? | Liesl Schillinger | February 1, 2010 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • And I am not sure even now that when these two things are found in one and the same woman they ever really shake down together.

  • The hair should be so securely put up that it will not shake down, and that the hair-pins will not work out.

    Horsemanship for Women | Theodore Hoe Mead
  • The hermit said unto the deer, O deer, why didst thou shake down the seed?

    Laos Folk-Lore of Farther India | Katherine Neville Fleeson
  • I often climb into the trees in Charlotte's orchard, and shake down the pears that hang on the highest branches.

  • If we once thoroughly understood each other we'd shake down better and go our ways in peace.

    Married Life | May Edginton

British Dictionary definitions for shake down

shake down

  1. to fall or settle or cause to fall or settle by shaking

  2. (tr) US slang to extort money from, esp by blackmail or threats of violence

  1. (tr) US slang to search thoroughly

  2. (tr) informal, mainly US to submit (a vessel, etc) to a shakedown test

  3. (intr) to go to bed, esp to a makeshift bed

  4. (intr) (of a person, animal, etc) to settle down

  1. US slang a swindle or act of extortion

  2. US slang a thorough search

  1. a makeshift bed, esp of straw, blankets, etc

  2. informal, mainly US

    • a voyage to test the performance of a ship or aircraft or to familiarize the crew with their duties

    • (as modifier): a shakedown run

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with shakedown


Extort money from, as in They had quite a racket, shaking down merchants for so-called protection. [Slang; second half of 1800s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.