Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Slang Extortion of money, as by blackmail.
  • n. Slang A thorough search of a place or person.
  • n. A period of appraisal followed by adjustments to improve efficiency or functioning.
  • adj. Serving to test the performance of a ship or aircraft and to familiarize the crew with operation of the craft: a shakedown cruise; a shakedown flight.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Extortion, especially through blackmail
  • n. A thorough search; a frisk
  • n. A trial or test period, especially of a ship or aircraft
  • n. An improvised bed.
  • adj. that tests the performance of a ship or aircraft

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A temporary substitute for a bed, as one made on the floor or on chairs; -- perhaps originally from the shaking down of straw for this purpose.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A temporary bed made by shaking down or spreading hay, rushes, or the like, or also quilts or a mattress, with coverings, on the floor, on a table, etc.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a very thorough search of a person or a place
  • n. extortion of money (as by blackmail)
  • adj. intended to test a new system under operating conditions and to familiarize the operators with the system
  • n. initial adjustments to improve the functioning or the efficiency and to bring to a more satisfactory state

Etymologies

shake +‎ down, from the phrase "shake down". (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • There is a second definition of the term "shakedown" in the dictionary, which I never saw until I decided to try to figure out what the Republican representative could mean.

    digg.com: Top News

  • I have to confess, I don't know of any definition of the word "shakedown" that fits, in with the esteemed representative offering money before and after going there being a victim.

    digg.com: Top News

  • The first was our previously announced shutdown in April to do what we call a shakedown analysis of our new sevoflurane line.

    Healthcare Sector and Stocks Analysis from Seeking Alpha

  • Folks who waxed poetic about the virtues of Federalism and how it works in the Senate must think this sort of shakedown is what the founders intended.

    Matthew Yglesias » The Shelby Shakedown

  • CORNISH: And later, he would issue a second retraction, saying his use of the word shakedown had been wrong, and apologizing for that, too.

    Hayward 'Deeply Sorry', Rep. Barton Also Apologizes

  • "Although Barton later retracted his suggestion that BP was the victim of a White House" shakedown "-- after leaders threatened to take away his position as ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee -- the episode showed the uncomfortable spot in which some Republicans find themselves."

    Have media 'misconstructed' BP story?

  • Although Barton later retracted his suggestion that BP was the victim of a White House "shakedown" -- after House GOP leaders threatened to take away his position as ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee -- the episode showed the uncomfortable spot in which some Republicans find themselves.

    Gulf oil spill puts industry-friendly Republicans in tight spot

  • But the point of Barton's comment -- the idea that the BP escrow fund represents a "shakedown" -- is not being dismissed.

    GOP candidates echo Barton on BP 'shakedown'

  • On Thursday afternoon, Texas Republican Congressman Joe Barton issued an apology for telling BP CEO Tony Hayword that the Obama administration's actions to hold the oil giant accountable in the wake of the Gulf Coast oil spill was a "shakedown" -- a characterization that sparked a firestorm of criticism from Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike.

    Joe Barton BP Apology: Texas Congressman Backpedals

  • Campaigning in support of South Carolina gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Haley, on Monday, Romney refused to say whether he thought Barton had been right to call the establishment of an escrow fund a "shakedown" -- though he did offer his support for the establishment of the fund itself.

    Romney Rebukes Barton After Initial No-Comment

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