[ shuh-nan-i-guhn ]
/ ʃəˈnæn ɪ gən /
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See synonyms for: shenanigan / shenanigans on Thesaurus.com

noun Informal.
Usually shenanigans.
  1. mischief; prankishness: Halloween shenanigans.
  2. deceit; trickery.
a mischievous or deceitful trick, practice, etc.


Where Does The Word "Shenanigans" Come From?

We love the word "shenanigans." Just saying the word is almost as much fun as planning some shenanigans to pull on someone.

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Origin of shenanigan

An Americanism dating back to 1850–55; of obscure origin
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What are shenanigans?

Shenanigans is used informally to mean either mischief or pranks, as in Steve and Matt planned the usual Halloween shenanigans of toilet-papering houses. 

Shenanigans can also mean deceit or trickery, as in The company took a hard line against shenanigans like filing expenses for items never purchased. 

Shenanigans is also used to mean the mischievous or underhanded trick itself, as in After being conned repeatedly by the gambler, Noah warned everyone of the gambler’s loaded dice shenanigans. 

Example: We all knew that the plastic spiders were part of Warren’s usual shenanigans.

Where does shenanigans come from?

The first records of shenanigans come from about 1850. It is an Americanism of unknown origin.

The word shenanigans is often used to describe the practical jokes pulled by children and teenagers or the mischief that they get into. When used to describe the activity of adults, the word shenanigans is much more likely to mean deceit or trickery.

Because the word shenanigans is informal, when it is used in news media, it is often used to describe whimsical mischief or illegal behavior that was poorly planned or easily stopped by the police.

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What are some other forms related to shenanigans?

  • shenanigan (singular noun)

What are some synonyms for shenanigans?

What are some words that often get used in discussing shenanigans?

How is shenanigans used in real life?

Shenanigans is commonly used to describe mischief and prankish antics, as well as to illegal or unethical behavior.

Try using shenanigans!

Which of the following words is a synonym for shenanigans?

A. theft
B. comedy
C. mischief
D. oddity

How to use shenanigan in a sentence

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