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Of uncertain origin. These possibilities have been suggested:



shenanigan (plural shenanigans)

  1. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) (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.
  2. (countable) A deceitful confidence trick, or mischief causing discomfort or annoyance.
    You should learn to spot their shenanigans and avoid being fooled.
  3. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) (uncountable) Mischievous play, especially by children.
    Billy and Tom are playing noisily upstairs again. They're up to their usual shenanigans.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The plural is much more commonly used than the singular.