Where does the word “Hijack” come from and What does Hijack mean?

The word hijack came into American speech shortly after the First World War, during the “silk shirt” era of prosperity when the prohibition amendment was still in force and people with money to spend wanted to spend it on liquor.

Some say it originated in the Middle West, in reference to the activities of hoboes who preyed upon harvesters, even to murder, but the general consensus is that it originally indicated a holdup, at night, especially of a load or cargo of illicit liquor.

The holdup might be with or without murder, and might include the transference of the load or cargo to another truck or vessel.

Though the source of the term cannot be definitely traced, we think it probable that it came from the friendly hail, “Hi, Jack!” intended to disarm the suspicions of a truck driver by another who was apparently in trouble by the side of the road.