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[shuh-nan-i-guh n] /ʃəˈnæn ɪ gən/
noun, Informal.
Usually, shenanigans.
  1. mischief; prankishness:
    Halloween shenanigans.
  2. deceit; trickery.
a mischievous or deceitful trick, practice, etc.
Origin of shenanigan
An Americanism dating back to 1850-55; of obscure origin Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for shenanigan
Historical Examples
  • I'll darn soon show ye what's the matter with me, you come any o' your shenanigan around here.

    Back Home Eugene Wood
  • He was a bold man who attempted any shenanigan with Mart Haney, and the games of his halls were reported honest.

    Money Magic Hamlin Garland
British Dictionary definitions for shenanigan


noun (informal)
(usually pl) roguishness; mischief
an act of treachery; deception
Word Origin
C19: of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for shenanigan

1855, of uncertain origin. Earliest records of it are in San Francisco and Sacramento, California, U.S. Suggestions include Spanish chanada, a shortened form of charranada "trick, deceit;" or, less likely, German Schenigelei, peddler's argot for "work, craft," or the related German slang verb schinäglen. Another guess centers on Irish sionnach "fox."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for shenanigan



A trick or bit of foolery; a mild cheat or deception

[1855+; origin unknown; perhaps fr Irish sionnachuighim, ''play tricks, be foxy'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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