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Etymology 1[edit]

First seen in 1862 meaning a “temporary shelter”. For instance in the US Civil War (1860-65), the small self-constructed shelters made by Union soldiers in the Confederate Prisoner-of-War camp at Andersonsville, south of Atlanta, Georgia, were known as "Shebangs". [1]

The usage as “temporary shelter” perhaps from shebeen (cabin where unlicensed liquor is sold and drunk), pre-1800, chiefly in Ireland and Scotland, from Irish seibin (small mug), diminutive of seibe (mug, bottle, liquid measure)

Modern sense "the whole shebang", origin unknown but meaning "all of the parts" of what is being referred to. Take our Word]</ref>[2]

Alternative forms[edit]


shebang (uncountable)

  1. Any matter of present concern; thing; or business.
  2. (obsolete) A vehicle.[3]
    • 1871, December 14, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), “Roughing It” (lecture), printed in Fred W. Lorch, “Mark Twain’s Lecture from Roughing it”, in American Literature, volume 22, number 3 (November 1950), pages 305:
      […] So they got into the empty omnibus and sat down. Colonel Jack says: “...What is the name of this.” Colonel Jim told him it was a barouche. After a while he poked his head out in front and said to the driver, “I say, Johnny, this suits me. We want this shebang all day. Let the horses go.”
  3. (archaic) A lean-to or temporary shelter.
    • 1862, Walt Whitman, Journal, December:
      Their shebang enclosures of bushes.
    • 1889, Bret Harte, The Heritage of Dedlow Marsh
      They say that old pirate, Kingfisher Culpepper, had a stock of the real thing from Robertson County laid in his shebang on the Marsh just before he died.


Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ part of official presentation at Andersonsville memorial
  2. 2.0 2.1 whole shebang, the ”,, Dave Wilton, Tuesday, February 20, 2007.
  3. ^ Take our Word
  • Shebang. Cassell's Dictionary of Slang By Jonathon Green, Sterling Pub. Co., Inc. 2006, p. 1261

Etymology 2[edit]

hash +‎ bang or sharp +‎ bang, after Etymology 1.


shebang (plural shebangs)

  1. (computing) The character string "#!" used at the beginning of a computer file to indicate which interpreter can process the commands in the file, chiefly used in Unix and related operating systems.