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shake someone down
1. to blackmail someone. (Underworld.) Fred was trying to shake Jane down, but she got the cops in on it. The police chief was trying to shake down just about everybody in town.
2. to put pressure on someone to lend one money. We tried to shake down Max for a few hundred, but no deal. If you're trying to shake me down, forget it. I have no cash.
shake down somebodyalso shake somebody down
to get money from someone by using threats His crimes ranged from murder to shaking down gamblers. He claimed that a government official shook his company down for $10,000 in campaign contributions.
1. Extort money from, as in They had quite a racket, shaking down merchants for so-called protection. [Slang; second half of 1800s]
2. Make a thorough search of, as in They shook down all the passengers, looking for drugs. [Slang early 1900s]
3. Subject a new vehicle or machine to a tryout, as in We'll shake down the new model next week.
4. Become acclimated or accustomed, to a new place, job, or the like, as in Is this your first job? You'll soon shake down. [Mid-1800s]
1. To extort money from someone: The mob regularly sends thugs to shake down local businesses. The blackmailer shook us down for $1000.
2. To make a thorough search of someone or something: The guards shook down the prisoners' cells for hidden weapons. The airport security guards shook me down.
3. To become acclimated or accustomed, as to a new environment or a new job: We gave the new hire a few weeks to shake down before assigning her to a project.