--by Mike Adams
I smiled, when first I read that this week’s GBE2 prompt is shenanigans. This would be fun, a light-hearted topic, where I could revel in youthful pranks and funny memories. So after a quick trip down memory lane, I went to Thesaurus.com. There, I learned that the word shenanigan is complex and encompasses a range of “pranks” that include lighthearted, mischievous fun, and vile deceit or outrageous damage.
This piqued my curiosity and sent me to mirriam-webster.com , dictionary.com and etymonline.com in order to learn more about this word that I thought I knew.
I had always believed shenanigan to be an Irish word. Something that Darby O’Gill would utter with a tinge of affection while recounting his adventures with Ireland’s “little people”. It turns out that the earliest record of shenanigan is dated 1855 and it originated in San Francisco or Sacramento. Mark one against my home brewed etymology. Next, there doesn’t appear to be much information about shenanigan, except that it possibly is derived from “chanada” or “charranada”, meaning trick or deceit. “Hmmm, chanada, there is a word I haven’t heard in a long time…in fact, I’ve never heard it!”
OK, time to hit Merriam-webster and dictionary.com, both of which define shenanigan as either a youthful and lighthearted prank or a devious and underhanded trick. Wow, I hadn’t known that shenanigans could be so dark.
It turns out that the list of synonyms for Shenanigan includes: atrocity, catastrophe and devilry. To my surprise, there is even a book titled “Financial Shenanigans: How to Detect Accounting Gimmicks & Fraud in Financial Reports”. This book even has a second edition.
This shows me how I've limited my use of the word shenanigan over the years. I think perhaps I should practice deploying this word in a more diverse venue. Say, a threat, “Just be aware, no one will like that…if you proceed, you may well find yourself on the wrong end of a shenanigan!” or “Don’t cross him, his shenanigry runs deep and it is filled with vile and heinous deceit.”
Thanks GBE2, you have broadened my understanding of a rather common word. I’ll use my newfound knowledge only for good though, because as we all know, “with great power, comes great responsibility.”