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

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jul 6 03:32:38 UTC 2015

On Sun, Jul 5, 2015 at 11:03 AM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu> wrote:

> OED has shenanigan from 1855, "Origin obscure." The question mark in the
> su=
> bject line indicates that I did not check all the many known spellings in
> e=
> very 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
> m=
> oney 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
> witn=
> ess (name not reported), called by the defence, after some others attested
> =
> to Atkins' "excellent character," "who swore that he saw Way about 7
> o'cloc=
> k, on Saturday evening [the night of the killing], and was hailed by him;
> W=
> ay 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
> "shenaneg=
> in" over him....

So, Atkins wanted to _come the "shenanigan" over_ Way.

Edward S[ylvester] Ellis (April 11, 1840 - June 20, 1916), a writer of dime
novels, puts a similar turn of phrase into the mouth of his character,
Mickey O'Rooney, in Chapter XXI, p.164, of  his work, The Cave in the
Mountain, published New York: 1894, The Mershon Company, under the
pseudonym, "Lieut. R. H. Jayne," as the fourth volume of The War Whoop

"Wal, sir, I made up my mind that [the redskins] warn't going to _come any
shenanigan over _ me, and I struck the straightest line for Fort Severn."

There is no other, easily-found example of "come shenanigan over."

St. Louis's own Kate Chopin uses "shenanigans" in 1890, Larry. Otherwise,
the singular is the norm till some time in the 20th C., on my
admittedly-casual examination of the evidence.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

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

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