Word of the Day : April 30, 2011

shivaree

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noun shiv-uh-REE

Definition

: a noisy mock serenade to a newly married couple

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."


Examples

On the night of Sally and Henry's wedding, the townspeople gathered outside the couple's window to participate in a raucous shivaree.

"A shivaree on Virginia Street brought these youngsters together to bang pots and make noise on the occasion of the Shovlin family wedding." -- From Debbie Bowman Shea's 2011 book Irish Butte



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