from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A deceitful trick; an underhanded act.
  • n. Remarks intended to deceive; deceit. Often used in the plural.
  • n. A playful or mischievous act; a prank.
  • n. Mischief; prankishness. Often used in the plural.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Trickery, games; skulduggery. To "call", "claim" or "declare" shenanigans is to rhetorically label something as officially deceitful, improper, or otherwise incorrect.
  • n. A deceitful confidence trick, or mischief causing discomfort or annoyance.
  • n. Mischievous play, especially by children.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Nonsense; humbug; deceit: as, now, no shenanigan about this.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. reckless or malicious behavior that causes discomfort or annoyance in others
  • n. the use of tricks to deceive someone (usually to extract money from them)


Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Of uncertain origin. These possibilities have been suggested: (Wiktionary)



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  • A curiosity: I've never seen one by itself. Usually they travel in packs.

    December 16, 2009

  • This word has been replaced with bernie

    June 30, 2009

  • Use to express outrage, a la Chavo Guerrero Sr., "this is a shenanigan!"

    December 6, 2006