Definition of press gang in English:

press gang


  • A body of men employed to enlist men forcibly into service in the army or navy.

    • ‘We also watched a 20-minute film about a ruthless press gang scouring dockside pubs for unsuspecting naval recruits.’
    • ‘The days when press gangs scavenged pubs to seduce volunteers with rum were long gone.’
    • ‘Many of those fleeing are trying to escape the press gangs to which the militia have resorted to fill the ranks of their army.’
    • ‘He's afraid of kidnappers, slave traders, heart attacks, press gangs, spiders, Wallace and Gromit, and the dark.’
    • ‘The Marine Society offered an alternative to the press gang, a violent and socially divisive method of conscription which the perpetually under-manned Royal Navy used in every war.’
    • ‘Whalebone corsets, colonial uprisings, scurvy, press gangs, and monocles popping out in astonishment shall be the order of the day.’
    • ‘The reason for the difference was the traditional Royal Navy view that all officers were volunteers, but that, recalling the press gang, ratings were generally not so in wartime.’
    • ‘On the run, and in a panic, they find an unintended refuge in the clutches of a press gang.’
    • ‘It would definitely have taken a press gang to get a tall bloke like me to join the Navy in the early 19th century.’
    • ‘A few were downright bloody-minded, seeing little difference between their call up and the press gangs of Britain's distant past.’
    • ‘However, he escaped jail after telling the court he took the boat to escape a press gang trying to kidnap him.’
    • ‘Opposition to British press gangs that forced men into the Royal Navy led to a number of colonial riots, most notably the 1747 Knowles riot in Boston.’
    • ‘There were riots in London in 1794 and 1795 against army recruitment methods, while seafaring communities throughout the empire resisted naval press gangs.’
    • ‘A press gang might withdraw, releasing its victims.’
    • ‘I was not burning with ambition to be elevated benchwards, merely putting myself in the way of the judicial press gang, should it wish to pick me up.’
    • ‘The songs she chooses are riddled with love, death and yarns about sailing ships and press gangs.’
    • ‘You could almost imagine the smugglers, pirates, press gangs and seafarers who at one time inhabited this ancient fishing port.’
    • ‘The ghostly pirates of the Black Pearl all talk with the absurd Jolly Jack Tar accents that one associates with press gangs and poop decks.’
    • ‘Under the rubric of ‘Crime’ the author argues that press gangs did the work of magistrates by reducing crime in time of war.’
    • ‘In many ways, these tactics echo the naval press gangs of the Napoleonic era.’


[WITH OBJECT]press-gang
  • 1Forcibly enlist (someone) into service in the army or navy.

    ‘a press-ganged navy’
    • ‘Villagers told a BBC journalist who visited the area that locals had been press-ganged into joining the attack without being told who was the target.’
    • ‘Eleven-year-old Sam Witchall is press-ganged into Nelson's navy to work as a ‘powder monkey’ - the boy who carries gunpowder from barrels in the hold to cannons on the gun deck.’
    • ‘A market, lantern procession and fireworks are planned, and the organiser is hoping to find local actors or historical reenactors to dress up in period costume and press gang members of the public into joining Nelson's navy.’
    • ‘‘No one intends to press-gang students into the Army,’ Ivanov said Friday.’
    • ‘Young men were press-ganged into the burgeoning rabble of the army, where the discipline of the elite units could not hope to reach.’
    • ‘It is a cruel misnomer for the thousands of children and adults abducted or press-ganged into service in the militias or government army.’
    • ‘You'll have to be my cover until I press-gang him aboard with a bit of my much vaunted legerdemain.’
    • ‘In the 18th century, life at sea on the tall ships was so miserable that crews had to be press-ganged into service.’
    • ‘In pursuit of an errant husband she found herself press-ganged into the army in 1745 and fought in India as a marine, later becoming a national celebrity.’
    • ‘It's not only the government that press-gangs children into battle.’
    • ‘He made a living as a schoolmaster and a spailpín (itinerant labourer). He joined - or was press-ganged into - the navy, and served under Admiral Rodney.’
    • ‘The show takes elements of Stevenson's 1886 classic novel Kidnapped, in which a young boy is press-ganged on to a ship during the Napoleonic wars by his Scrooge-like uncle.’
    • ‘By the time we returned to the small fishing village of Marigot, I didn't need to be press-ganged into the crew.’
    • ‘The story revolves around an 81 year-old who was press-ganged into the army in China and came to Taiwan with Chiang Kai-shek.’
    • ‘Early in the plot, the two oldest Strang brothers, Mark and Luke, are press-ganged into His Majesty's fleets.’
    • ‘In the 18th century, men deprived of their small holdings in the agricultural revolution were either press-ganged into the navy or army or transported to America and Australia if they broke the law.’
    • ‘Thousands of children were often press-ganged into their bloody civil war, wielding assault rifles on the streets instead of pens in the classroom.’
    • ‘Another danger for Whitby men was of being press-ganged into the Royal Navy, and they would try all kinds of tricks to escape the attentions of the Press Gang.’
    compel, coerce, make, constrain, oblige, impel, drive, necessitate, pressurize, pressure, press, push
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1press-gang someone into Force someone to do something.
      ‘we press-ganged Simon into playing’
      • ‘It costs less to press-gang drivers into doing excessive amounts of overtime than to recruit, train and pay new drivers.’
      • ‘Second, it press-gangs manufacturers and dealers into service as adjuncts to law enforcement.’
      • ‘‘We don't have to press-gang artists into looking at these issues,’ says Lynch.’
      • ‘So great was her love for Stevenson that she used to press-gang the neighbourhood kids into dramatising passages from Kidnapped.’
      • ‘Rubin, in a sense, press-gangs Stella into an old battle.’
      • ‘But the genuine power of such stories is ultimately devalued by this tendency to press gang any old tale into the mythology of a particular city.’
      • ‘The ambulance officers ‘did what they could’ but had to press gang a police officer to drive their vehicle back to Liverpool.’
      • ‘I've a great love for music and even when I'm not working I'll practise every day, unless I'm press-ganged into a shopping trip by my wife.’
      • ‘Her motive was likely to have been to press-gang an unwary man into Aunt Fanny's Sewing Circle, the court was told.’
      • ‘A woman died after a police officer was press-ganged into driving an ambulance following a road accident in Liverpool, last week.’
      • ‘This weekend I paid my karmic dues after press-ganging my mates into helping shift my stuff around London by helping my sister and bro-in-law, Lucy and Jeff, move into their new house.’
      • ‘To avoid a diesel being cold started, some railway members were press-ganged into manually shunting the coach into the freight siding to clear the road.’
      • ‘Ann was otherwise engaged so I press-ganged a colleague into joining me.’
      • ‘Pulling out all the stops, he press-ganged part-time guide John into service to take us out.’
      • ‘The course was overwhelmed with players and there was great difficulty in securing enough caddies for the day, so the usual assortment of gardeners and drivers were press-ganged into service.’


press gang