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1. verb To blackmail someone for money; to extort someone. A noun or pronoun is often used between "shake" and "down." The assistant has been shaking the governor down ever since he found out that she'd been taking bribes.
2. verb By extension, to ask, pressure, or force someone to pay a sum of money, often an exorbitant or unfair amount. A noun or pronoun is often used between "shake" and "down." I think it's criminal that the IRS gets to shake you down for so much of your hard-earned cash each year. Her private school offers the best education in the state, but they don't hesitate to shake us down for the privilege. Before you know it, the kids will be driving their own cars and shaking you down for money on the weekends.
3. verb To become acclimated, organized, or established (in something or some place new). So, how's your first week in the office been? You shaking down all right? It took us a few weeks to shake down after the move, but we're feeling right at home now.
4. verb To search someone or something thoroughly, especially for weaponry or prohibited substances. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "shake" and "down." The bouncer is shaking down everyone to make sure no one smuggles booze or drugs into the concert. The officer shook me down even though I told him I didn't have a gun on me.
5. noun An instance of blackmail for money or extorsion. As a noun, the phrase is usually written as one word. The FBI captured the shakedown on video and was able to use it at the trial.
6. noun By extension, an instance of asking, pressuring, or forcing someone to pay a sum of money, often an exorbitant or unfair amount. As a noun, the phrase is usually written as one word. It's time for the annual shakedown by the IRS again. Every time I turn around, there's another shakedown at the office for some charity or fundraiser or whatever.
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.
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.
shake someone down
1. tv. to blackmail someone. (Underworld.) The police chief was trying to shake down just about everybody in town.
2. tv. to put pressure on someone to lend one money. We tried to shake them down for a few hundred, but no deal.
n. an act of extortion. (Underworld.) Mary was giving Bruno the shakedown, so he tried to put her out of the way.