There are 3 main definitions of shanghai in English:

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shanghai 1

Syllabification: shang·hai
Pronunciation: /ˈSHaNGhī/

verb (shanghais, shanghaiing-ˌhī-iNG, shanghaied-ˌhīd)

[with object] historical
1Force (someone) to join a ship lacking a full crew by drugging them or using other underhanded means.
Example sentences
  • Otherwise, as Hume remarks in his essay ‘Of the Original Contract’, it is like telling a man who has been shanghaied aboard a ship that he is free to leap into the sea and perish.
  • It was probably the first time any of them had received a kind word from the panda since they had been shanghaied to the crew.
  • Anyone publishing it should be shanghaied aboard a hell-ship and flogged through the horse latitudes.
1.1 informal Coerce or trick (someone) into a place or position or into doing something: Brady shanghaied her into his Jaguar and roared off
More example sentences
  • At the end of the afternoon the cameras came out, and a waiter was shanghaied to take the group photo.
  • The night before he began his college basketball career, Anthony was shanghaied along with the rest of his Syracuse teammates and was taken to a party at the New York museum on board the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier.
  • Marcella shanghaied him and said something about his brother being in the study and wanting to see him.


Late 19th century: from Shanghai.

Words that rhyme with shanghai

ally, Altai, apply, assai, awry, ay, aye, Baha'i, belie, bi, Bligh, buy, by, bye, bye-bye, chi, Chiangmai, Ciskei, comply, cry, Cy, Dai, defy, deny, Di, die, do-or-die, dry, Dubai, dye, espy, eye, fie, fly, forbye, fry, Frye, goodbye (US goodby), guy, hereby, hi, hie, high, I, imply, I-spy, July, kai, lie, lye, Mackay, misapply, my, nearby, nigh, Nye, outfly, passer-by, phi, pi, pie, ply, pry, psi, Qinghai, rai, rely, rocaille, rye, scry, serai, shy, sigh, sky, Skye, sky-high, sly, spin-dry, spry, spy, sty, Sukhotai, supply, Tai, Thai, thereby, thigh, thy, tie, Transkei, try, tumble-dry, underlie, Versailles, Vi, vie, whereby, why, wry, Wye, xi, Xingtai, Yantai
Definition of shanghai in:
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There are 3 main definitions of shanghai in English:

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shanghai 2 Line breaks: shang|hai
Pronunciation: /ʃaŋˈhʌɪ/

Entry from British & World English dictionary

Australian /NZ

noun (plural shanghais)

A catapult.
Example sentences
  • Younger children would play ‘bullrush’, make shanghais and stilts and go bird nesting or exploring.
  • We need to have two battle-ready battalions in Australia at all times - and soon this may comprise of boy scouts armed with shanghais at the rate that the government is sending our troops to other countries.
  • There is a small bronze statue of a New Zealand schoolboy, with a shanghai hanging out of his pocket.

verb (shanghais, shanghaiing, shanghaied)

[with object] Back to top  
1Shoot with a catapult: in spite of his shanghaiing all the cats, the rodents were still on top
1.1 [with object and adverbial of direction] Catapult in a particular direction: the springy, resilient saplings would shanghai him backwards


Mid 19th century: probably an alteration of Scots dialect shangan 'a stick cleft at one end'.

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There are 3 main definitions of shanghai in English:

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Shanghai 3 Syllabification: Shang·hai
Pronunciation: /SHaNGˈhī/
A city on the eastern coast of China, a port on the estuary of the Yangtze River; population 11,283,700 (est. 2006). Until World War II, Shanghai contained areas of British, French, and American settlement. It was the site in 1921 of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.
Definition of shanghai in:
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