shenanigan

noun she·nan·i·gan \ shə-ˈna-ni-gən \
Updated on: 9 May 2018

Definition of shenanigan

1 : a devious trick used especially for an underhand purpose
2 a : tricky or questionable practices or conduct usually used in plural
b : high-spirited or mischievous activity usually used in plural

Examples of shenanigan in a Sentence

  1. students engaging in youthful shenanigans on the last day of school

  2. an act of vandalism that went way beyond the usual shenanigans at summer camp

Recent Examples of shenanigan from the Web

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

Did You Know?

The history of shenanigan is as tricky and mischievous as its meaning. Etymologists have some theories about its origins, but no one has been able to prove them. All we can say for certain is that the earliest known use of the word in print appeared in the April 25, 1855, issue of San Francisco's Town Talk. Although the "underhanded trick" sense of the word is oldest, the most common senses in use now are "tricky or questionable practices" (as in "political shenanigans") and "high-spirited behavior" (as in "youthful shenanigans").

Origin and Etymology of shenanigan

origin unknown



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up shenanigan? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to fill with foolish love or admiration

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!