To shanghai someone is to kidnap or trick them into working for you. The traditional way to shanghai someone is to drug him and put him on a ship. When the person wakes up, he better get to work.

This term popped up in the 19th century. The captain of a boat would shanghai people when his ship was short on labor. The shanghaied person would wake up and find himself at sea, often on a long trip like to Shanghai, China. The term is also used for similar, non-naval abductions. If you trick your best friend into coming home with you so she can do your chores, you shanghai her.

Definitions of shanghai
  1. verb
    take (someone) against his will for compulsory service, especially on board a ship
    synonyms: impress
    see moresee less
    type of:
    abduct, kidnap, nobble, snatch
    take away to an undisclosed location against their will and usually in order to extract a ransom
Word Family

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