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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
1850-55, Americanism; of obscure origin Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for shenanigan
  • In fact, this shenanigan was already well known in some circles.
  • Some of then wouldn't pen, so we'd work a shenanigan on them.
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 difficult and confused situation; an uproar; melee; mess, rhubarb: It became clear that the whole shlamozzle, introns and exons, are transcribed into RNA (1899+)


To depart; powder, scram (1903+)

[ultimately probably fr Yiddish shlim mazel, ''rotten luck,'' hence ''a difficulty or misfortune,'' and related to shlemazel]

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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