[Ads-l] shenanegin antedated (?) to 1854

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Sun Jul 5 15:03:48 UTC 2015

OED has shenanigan from 1855, "Origin obscure." The question mark in the subject line indicates that I did not check all the many known spellings in every likely-suspect place. I think this antedates ads-l archive and several other sites. Green's I don't have at hand. HDAS vol. with S, even less at hand.

The newspaper reports on a suspected murder. Two men fought, apparently a money dispute; both lost blood; one died of a knife wound. The incident was reported in Daily Placer Times and Transcript, San Francisco CA, "Death of Mr. Way Inquest," July 31, 1854 page 2 col. 1. [Am. Hist. N.]

Then on August 3, 1854 the same newspaper p. 2 col. 3 reported "Examination of H. B. Atkins," the accused murderer. It reports the testimony of a witness (name not reported), called by the defence, after some others attested to Atkins' "excellent character," "who swore that he saw Way about 7 o'clock, on Saturday evening [the night of the killing], and was hailed by him; Way told him that he had just had another fuss with Atkins, and that he was now going around again; he thought that Atkins wanted to come the "shenanegin" over him....

Stephen Goranson


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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