Photo of author


Shenanigans are silly or mischievous behaviors or activities. A shenanigan is a trick, usually of a questionable nature. Depending on the dictionary, the noun is listed as plural or in its singular form. It is used either way. It is pronounced \shə-ˈna-ni-gən\ (shi nan i gan) with both the and the producing the short sound. 

It was first used in the middle of the 19th century in California during the Gold Rush, but we don’t actually know where it came from before that, which seems appropriate.

You will see from the ngram below that shenanigans is more prominent than shenanigan. Also, the term may have been coined in the 1800s, but it has come into its stride in the 20th and 21st centuries.


A related use of the word is calling shenanigans or saying that something is not correct/real/valid.


It offers no latitude for the mindless shenanigan that pervades medical practice in Nigeria. [All Africa]

In the end, Stephenson’s most notable shenanigan—let’s just call it Whispergatewasn’t what put the Pacers off. [Bleacher Report]

Maybe if they would handle stop their shenanigans and deal with this dispute in a mature and professional fashion, a mutually agreeable settlement would ensue post-haste. [Montreal Gazette]

“This case requires us once again to decide whether some shenanigans in the Illinois General Assembly and governor’s office crossed the line from the merely unseemly to the unlawful,” states the decision from the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. [Herald-News]

I know some people will call shenanigans, claiming this is another manufactured viral video with backing by one of Snedeker’s sponsors and/or Jimmy Kimmel. [USA Today]

Comments are closed.