Bring forth the shenanigans | Michigan Radio

Bring forth the shenanigans

Sep 2, 2018

What better word to describe the kind of mischief you can get up to on the weekend than "shenanigans"?

That’s precisely why we thought “shenanigan” would be the perfect topic for this long holiday weekend.

A shenanigan is a devious trick, according to Merriam Webster, and can also refer to mischief or troublemaking. 

Though the plural form is used much more often, we see the singular form occasionally. It makes it easier to refer to a specific shenanigan: “If you pull that shenanigan with the toilet and the saran wrap again, I’m going to get really angry!”

Unfortunately, we don’t know much about where “shenanigan” comes from. Most dictionaries will say  “origin unknown” or “etymology uncertain.”

There are plenty of theories though. On his blog World Wide Words, Michael Quinion talks about how some people say “shenanigan” is Irish, while others say it’s from an East-Anglian dialect. Some speculate that it’s German, while others say it’s Spanish.

Something we do know are the types of shenanigans Americans seem to talk about the most. According to the Corpus of Contemporary American English, they come in three categories: money, politics and sex.

No comment there. What sorts of shenanigans are you up to this weekend?