chi·​ca·​nery | \ shi-ˈkān-rē How to pronounce chicanery (audio) , -ˈkā-nə-, chi-\
plural chicaneries

Definition of chicanery

1 : deception by artful subterfuge or sophistry : trickery He wasn't above using chicanery to win votes.
2 : a piece of sharp practice (as at law) : trick resorted to political chicaneries financial chicaneries

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Chicanery Has Roots in French

We have hardly any words that do so fully expresse the French clinquant, naiveté … chicaneries. So lamented English writer John Evelyn in a letter to Sir Peter Wyche in 1665. Evelyn and Wyche were members of a group called the Royal Society, which had formed a committee emulating the French Academy for the purpose of "improving the English language." We can surmise that, in Evelyn's estimation, the addition of chicanery to English from French was an improvement. What he apparently didn't realize was that English speakers had adopted the word from the French chicanerie before he wished for it; the term appears in English manuscripts dating from 1609. Similarly, clinquant ("glittering with gold or tinsel") dates from 1591. Naïveté, on the other hand, waited until 1673 to appear.

Examples of chicanery in a Sentence

He wasn't above using chicanery to win votes. that candidate only won the election through chicanery

Recent Examples on the Web

Lampard himself has been in close proximity to some MI6-level chicanery. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "On His Manager’s Secret Service: Espionage Comes to English Soccer," 15 Jan. 2019 Another problem is that less frequent reports would make financial chicanery harder for investors, and regulators, to spot, says Howard Schilit, founder of accounting-analysis firm Schilit Forensics. Justin Lahart, WSJ, "The Higher Cost of Less Information," 17 Aug. 2018 As a recent Fortune piece puts it, the Fleischmann and Pons experiment 'was eventually debunked and since then the term cold fusion has become almost synonymous with scientific chicanery'. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "Can Cold Fusion Come Back From the Dead?," 21 Dec. 2015 Revelations about pernicious advertising by Russian operatives, chicanery by Cambridge Analytica, and questionable sharing of user data have left many Americans skeptical about Facebook . Daniel Gallant, WSJ, "How to Beat the Zuckerberg Casino," 8 July 2018 There’s no need and no reason other than the exercise of political chicanery for American children to be separated from their parents, brothers, sisters and other family members in the United States. Fabiola Santiago, miamiherald, "Another separation crisis looms – this time for some 273,000 American children," 12 July 2018 But the author clearly revels just as much in intricately capturing the chicanery outside the ropes that continues to mar the sport’s reputation to this day. Chris Brodeur,, "UConn Professor Chronicles Rocky Marciano's Rise Set Against Boxing's Murky Underworld," 12 July 2018 Since the Brexit referendum, the public has witnessed a circus of chicanery, buffoonery and idiocy that Boris Johnson’s exit will only ease in the most marginal of fashions. Sean Williams, The New Republic, "England’s World Cup Team: the Anti-Brexit," 10 July 2018 So, Reid, through some procedural chicanery on the floor, altered the precedent on filibusters … for everything but Supreme Court nominees. Chad Pergram, Fox News, "Reporter's Notebook: The Senate's path to confirming the next Supreme Court justice," 27 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chicanery.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of chicanery

1609, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for chicanery

see chicane entry 1

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The first known use of chicanery was in 1609

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English Language Learners Definition of chicanery

formal : actions or statements that trick people into believing something that is not true : deception or trickery

More from Merriam-Webster on chicanery

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Nglish: Translation of chicanery for Spanish Speakers

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