shake down

Idioms & Phrases

shake down

  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]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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