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[hahy-jak] /ˈhaɪˌdʒæk/
verb (used with object)
to steal (cargo) from a truck or other vehicle after forcing it to stop:
to hijack a load of whiskey.
to rob (a vehicle) after forcing it to stop:
They hijacked the truck before it entered the city.
to seize (a vehicle) by force or threat of force.
to skyjack.
verb (used without object)
to engage in such stealing or seizing.
an act or instance or hijacking.
Origin of hijack
1920-25, Americanism; back formation from hijacker
Related forms
antihijack, adjective
Can be confused
hijack, kidnap, shanghai, skyjack. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for hijack
  • But more organized pirates will hijack freighters, off-load the cargo to sell later, and put the crew out to sea.
  • When the driver thwarted their attempt to hijack the vehicle, they tried to detonate the homemade bombs they were carrying.
  • He was captured as he tried to hijack another automobile.
  • He would use those results to design products that hijack the neurobiological reward circuitry in our brains.
  • Instead, they hijack your natural affinity for visual shortcuts by pummeling your brain with advertising.
  • From barnacles that hijack crabs to a protozoan that makes rodents cozy up to cats, parasites do a lot more than make you puke.
  • Security personnel can take in as much as pirates when a hijack is resolved.
  • Some ways to hijack this type of equipment have already been revealed.
  • To hijack a word--marriage--that so clearly represents a naturally observable fact of life makes no sense.
  • Please don't hijack article or blog discussions to complain about the redesign or to complain about mistreatment by the moderator.
British Dictionary definitions for hijack


(transitive) to seize, divert, or appropriate (a vehicle or the goods it carries) while in transit: to hijack an aircraft
to rob (a person or vehicle) by force: to hijack a traveller
(esp in the US during Prohibition) to rob (a bootlegger or smuggler) of his illicit goods or to steal (illicit goods) in transit
the act or an instance of hijacking
Derived Forms
hijacker, highjacker, noun
Word Origin
C20: of unknown origin
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
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Word Origin and History for hijack

1922, American English, perhaps from high(way) + jacker "one who holds up." Originally "to rob (a bootlegger, smuggler, etc.) in transit;" sense of "seizing an aircraft in flight" is 1968 (also in 1961 variant skyjack), extended 1970s to any form of public transportation. Related: Hijacked; hijacking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for hijack


  1. To rob, esp to rob a vehicle of its load: Hijack the truck (1923+)
  2. To commandeer a public vehicle, esp an airliner, for some extortionary or political purpose: Two more planes were hijacked to Cuba last week (1960s+)
  3. To appropriate unjustifiably; annex; steal: The 40th anniversary of D-day was hijacked by Reagan's PR men/ When Petersen, the director, is stuck, he just hijacks an idea or two from Hitchcock to get him to the next point in the picture/ How was the Bharatiya Janata Party able to hijack Hinduism? (1980s+)
Related Terms

ball the jack

[origin uncertain; said to be fr the command High, Jack, telling a robbery victim to raise his hands; an early 1900s hobo sense, ''traveling hold-up man,'' is attested, which suggests that the source may be railroad and hobo slang; said to have originated in the California wheat fields and among the Wobblies; the name of the 1875 skit High Jack the Heeler is interesting but probably coincidental]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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