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Of course you know this word as the Chinese port city with its impressive buildings and waterfront.

But have you come across it as a verb?  I was watching La La Land the other day and the hero uses it to excuse himself from missing a date.

I was shanghaied by the neighbour who insisted I go in for a cup of tea and a look through his holiday photos.

Unsurprisingly, the word dates from the days when captains sought crews for their ocean-going sailing vessels and sometimes had to oblige the sailors to “sign on” by getting them drunk and virtually abducting them.  All illegal and not above board at all! Signing on for a voyage was in many ways a type of imprisonment for the sailors who were not free to leave the ship.


There is a Charlie Chaplin movie with this title.