[ 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.

Nearby words

  1. shemozzle,
  2. shen congwen,
  3. shenandoah,
  4. shenandoah national park,
  5. shenandoah valley,
  6. shenanigans,
  7. shend,
  8. shensi,
  9. shenstone,
  10. shenstone, william

Origin of shenanigan

An Americanism dating back to 1850–55; of obscure origin Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for shenanigan

  • 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
  • I'll darn soon show ye what's the matter with me, you come any o' your shenanigan around here.

    Back Home|Eugene Wood

British Dictionary definitions for shenanigan


/ (ʃɪˈnænɪɡən) /

noun informal

(usually plural) roguishness; mischief
an act of treachery; deception

Word Origin for shenanigan

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

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