Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To kidnap (a man) for compulsory service aboard a ship, especially after drugging him.
  • transitive verb To induce or compel (someone) to do something, especially by fraud or force.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A boys' catapult.
  • To shoot with a shanghai. See shanghai, 5.
  • Nautical, to render insensible, as a person, by drugs, liquor, or violence, and ship him on a vessel wanting hands, for the purpose of fraudulently securing advance-money and any premium offered for procuring seamen.
  • noun A very long-legged hen with feathered shanks, reputed to have been introduced from Shanghai, China.
  • noun Hence A tall person; especially, a tall dandy.
  • noun A long, slender oyster; a stick-up or stuck-up; a coon-heel, rabbit-ear, or razor-blade.
  • noun A kind of fish-hook.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Zoöl.) A large and tall breed of domestic fowl.
  • transitive verb Slang, U.S. To intoxicate and ship (a person) as a sailor while in this condition.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To force or trick (someone) into joining a ship which is lacking a full crew.
  • verb transitive To abduct or coerce.
  • verb transitive To commandeer; appropriate; hijack
  • noun dated A slingshot.

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

  • verb take (someone) against his will for compulsory service, especially on board a ship
  • noun the largest city of China; located in the east on the Pacific; one of the largest ports in the world

Etymologies

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

[After Shanghai, from the former custom of kidnapping sailors to man ships going to China.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Mandarin 上海 (Shànghǎi), with reference to the former practice of forcibly crewing ships heading for the Orient.

Examples

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