Definition of shivaree
: a noisy mock serenade to a newly married couple
shivaree was our Word of the Day on 04/30/2011. Hear the podcast!
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Did You Know?
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."
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