Shenanigan Definition

A playful or mischievous act; a prank.
We're tired of your shenanigans!
American Heritage
An underhanded act or deceitful remark.
Financial shenanigans brought down the brokerage.
American Heritage

(uncountable) Trickery, games; skulduggery. To "call", "claim" or "declare" shenanigans is to rhetorically label something as officially deceitful, improper, or otherwise incorrect.

"The advertisement said it would cost $50 but they charged me $75 at the register. I declare shenanigans." The speaker passes off the statement as having some sort of implied official effect, but in reality, it is simply a complaint.
(countable) A deceitful confidence trick, or mischief causing discomfort or annoyance.
You should learn to spot their shenanigans and avoid being fooled.
(uncountable) Mischievous play, especially by children.
Billy and Tom are playing noisily upstairs again. They're up to their usual shenanigans.

Origin of Shenanigan

  • Palatinate German schinägeln (“to work hard"), from the peddler's argot term Schenigelei ("work").

    From Wiktionary

  • Spanish chanada, a shortening of charranada (“trick", "deceit").

    From Wiktionary

  • French ces manigances (“these fraudulent schemes").

    From Wiktionary

  • Irish sionnachuighim (“I play the fox").

    From Wiktionary

  • Origin unknown

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

Find Similar Words

Find similar words to shenanigan using the buttons below.

Words Starting With

Words Ending With