shiv·​a·​ree ˌshi-və-ˈrē How to pronounce shivaree (audio)
: a noisy mock serenade to a newly married couple
shivaree transitive verb

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In 19th century rural America, a newly-married couple might be treated to a mock serenade, performed with pots, pans, homemade instruments, and other noisemakers. Such cacophonous serenades were traditionally considered especially appropriate for second marriages or for unions deemed incongruous because of an age discrepancy or some other cause. In the eastern U.S. this custom, imported from rural England, was simply called a "serenade" or known under various local names. In much of the central U.S. and Canada, however, it was called a "shivaree," a loan from French charivari, which denotes the same folk custom in France. In more recent years, "shivaree" has also developed broader senses; it is sometimes used to mean simply "a cacophony" or "a celebration."

Examples of shivaree in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This Monday night shivaree is ideal to calm those who got too excited opening Christmas gifts. Nick Canepacolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Dec. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'shivaree.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


modification of French charivari — more at charivari

First Known Use

1843, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of shivaree was in 1843


Dictionary Entries Near shivaree

Cite this Entry

“Shivaree.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jun. 2024.

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