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 .
to engage in such stealing or seizing.
an act or instance or hijacking.
(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

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.


To rob, esp to rob a vehicle of its load: Hijack the truck (1923+)
To commandeer a public vehicle, esp an airliner, for some extortionary or political purpose: Two more planes were hijacked to Cuba last week (1960s+)
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]

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