Ever been ripped off at three card monte or some other con? Well, you're the victim of a shenanigan, a clever form of deception, usually designed to part the unwary from their money.

Not all shenanigans are financially motivated; an equally popular meaning is simply high spirits or boisterous behavior that might upset or annoy others, though usually not with any serious intent. It seems to be a word frequently applied to the Irish, with their established love of the high-spirited and artful ploy, and in fact may well come from the ancient Irish word sionnach, meaning "fox" — a traditionally sly beast.

Definitions of shenanigan
  1. noun
    the use of tricks to deceive someone (usually to extract money from them)
    synonyms: chicane, chicanery, guile, trickery, wile
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    dupery, fraud, fraudulence, hoax, humbug, put-on
    something intended to deceive; deliberate trickery intended to gain an advantage
    artful trickery designed to achieve an end
    anything that is supposed to be valuable but turns out to be worthless
    type of:
    deceit, deception, dissembling, dissimulation
    the act of deceiving
  2. noun
    reckless or malicious behavior that causes discomfort or annoyance in others
    synonyms: devilment, devilry, deviltry, mischief, mischief-making, mischievousness, rascality, roguery, roguishness
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    blaze, hell
    noisy and unrestrained mischief
    monkey business
    mischievous or deceitful behavior
    hooliganism, malicious mischief, vandalism
    willful wanton and malicious destruction of the property of others
    type of:
    misbehavior, misbehaviour, misdeed
    improper or wicked or immoral behavior
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘shenanigan'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
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