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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.





This word, which can be both a noun and a verb is roughly synonymous with scam or fraud.  It means to cheat the system in some way.  It’s a word that has been in quite common use in Australia and New Zealand and is now being found in the States and further afield. Originally it was quite a slang expression but with the easing up in formality of language, rort is being employed in a range of different linguistic registers.

So, we get to hear of social welfare rorts, tax rorts, rorts in sports (cute rhyme huh?) and wherever people are seeking to gain a benefit from the system.

Gladys is onto a great rort. She is receiving the dole (unemployment benefit) and all the concessions like free transport for that but is getting paid fortunes by being part of a house-a-refugee scheme. She has at least four in her house and the government pays thousands for each one on top of what she receives for being unemployed.

The transport companies were accused of rorting the government by claiming subsidies way in excess of their needs.