June 25, 2007

Shanghai

Shanghai - (verb) - To induce or compel (someone) to do something, especially by fraud or force

Usage: We were shanghaied into buying worthless securities.

Was reading a list of words derived from toponyms and there are tons of them: Bikini, Denim, Limerick, Blarney........when the word struck from a distant memory. I remember writing to a friend, many moons ago, how I, a sworn vegetarian at that time, was shanghaied into eating chicken by my hostel-mates. Blogging was not a given thing in those days and I don't think I gave the word any thought betwixt that day and today.

Coming to the origin of the word, the word is (it can't be more obvious) named after China's largest city and one of the most important ports in the world. The story goes that in the the 19th century, it was difficult for shippers in the West Coast of United States to find sufficient crews to man the ships set for long voyages, especially the ones to China. Shippers would get men to drug others from the dock area and put them into ships in the harbor. At first when men were found missing, the word would go round that "he's sailing to Shanghai." Later, the phrase was reduced to the verb as it is known today.

Trivia: The West Coast state of Oregon has underground tunnels called Shanghai Tunnels that run underneath Chinatown to the downtown section of Portland, Oregon. The tunnels were built to move goods. Around the end of the 19th century they were used to kidnap or "shanghai" unsuspecting laborers and sell them as slaves to waiting ships at the waterfront. Hence the name for the tunnels.

Source: http://www.answers.com/ , www.yourdictionary.com

13 comments:

Radha said...

I kind of knew intutively that the term had to come from the city of shanghai. But it was interesting reading all the trivia :)

I've also heard the term 'balgaloored' which means 'outsourced'. I'm not sure though whether its a legitimate english word yet, but used in spoken/ written media quite often these days.

666 said...

'bangaloored' ?? was that a typo Radha

Abhishek Rudresh said...

'Bangalored' with the upper case 'B' and its made it to the Oxford dictionary. They don't come any more 'legitimate' that that :)

Moi said...

Thanks to Thomas Friedman's bestseller, "The World is Flat"......anywhere u go in United States , they recognize India as Bangalore.

suramya said...

thats my lovely city :), well bangalore portrays india so well, its the only place in india where one can find someone who understand their native tongue, there's even a porter at the local bus station who knows german :),shanghaied, I know how it feels, I'm currently being "shanghaied" into trying to learn absolute drivel under the pretext of an engineering subject, talk about educational cons.

Moi said...

Su : its my fav. place on earth too :)
I remember the joke amongst us, how does a blind-folded man get to know that he has reached B'lore railway station. Ask him to call out for a porter, and the porter will respond in English "What??" hehe....that's my first memory of B'lore :)
and then i was lucky enough to create many more :)

Radha said...

Opps, that was a typo!! :)

Radha said...

I meant 'Oops'...God, what wrong with me today?

suramya said...

ha ha, now they are becoming multilingual :):)

yogsma said...

that's a cool word.Any word based on a city is always fascinating for me.

Moi said...

yogesh: true.......i was surprised to read even Coach is named after a place.

vrinda said...

i was 'shanghaied' into blogging by some of my friends who thought tearing up pieces tht i write wasnt the best choice...and now am seriously thinkin of 'Bangaloring' my blog posts...am too lazy to type but all too eager to 'write'...any takers???

nice read...cheers :)

Moi said...

wow, a new name here in ages ;)
welcome to this part of the blog-world, Vrinda :)