[Ads-l] "The Whole Shoot, " "Shebang" (or "Chebang"), and "the whole shebang"

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Nov 3 17:22:49 UTC 2015

The expression, "the whole shoot," pre-dates " the whole shootin' match" (1880 or 1882):

I reckon I know too much about
painting, stranger, to be sucked in as easy as you think for.  Fifty dollars! Why daddy only giv two dollars
for paint to paint our big wagin, and it was the clure red, and thar war anough
left to paint more ner the whole shoot of your picters. . . . Fayetteville (Ark.) Independent.

The Jackson Standard (Jackson, Ohio), February 2, 1854, page 1.

"Chebang," was used as early as 1854 to denote an Oddfellows' Lodge:

‘Very good,’ said Popple, ‘and, by
the way, Sparks, suppose you go to the lodge to-night, and see our Chebang.”

‘Our lodge, got your card with you?’

Raftsman’s Journal (Clearfield, Pennsylvania), July 15, 1854, page

"Chebang" and "Shebang" were used to refer to either a troupe of entertainers or a theater as early as 1858:

Pete has for associates Tommy Pell, Charley Coriell, J. Wood, M. Lutz,
J. Derniker, J. Smith, etc.  A pretty
strong “chebang.” 

New York Clipper,
August 6, 1859, page 127. 

Percival’s Pagoda is the title of the
Shebang, and lager and segars are the order of the night. 

The New York Clipper,
September 29, 1860, page 191.

During the Civil War, the word, "shebang" (and sometimes "chebang") was used at various times to refer to a primitive shelter, a dining hall or other large tent, an entire military unit, or rustic tavern. 

"The whole shebang" has been used literally (moving an entire military unit) since at least 1863:

On the second of June we received
orders from the commander of the post, Col. Geo. E. Bryant, of the 12th
Wisconsin Vols., to remove the whole hospital up to Young’s Point or Milliken’s
Bend.  On the third the
whole “chebang” was
removed on board the “Forest Queen,” and started for Young’s Point.

James Bryan, M.D., A Short Account of The “Mary Ann” Hospital,
Grand Gulf, Miss., American Medical Times, Volume 7, July 4, 1863, page 4.  

"The whole shebang" has been used figuratively since at least 1865:

It will be gratifying to your
readers to hear that the officers commanding these troops have been arrested,
the negroes themselves put under guard, and the whole “shebang” are to go before a court-martial.

Daily Ohio Statesman(Columbus, Ohio), December 15, 1865, page 2.  This last example may also be, arguably, literal, in that all of the people arrested were part of a single military unit.

More clearly figurative uses appear by 1866:

A Holiday. – No more papers until
Thursday evening! Fourth of July is claimed as a holiday by printers as well as
other people, and the whole “chebang,” from the “Great Mogul” to the
youngest and poorest “devil,” are off to “celebrate.”

Cleveland Daily Leader (Ohio), July 4, 1866, Morning Edition, page

There appears to be a direct connection between the Irish word, "shebeen" (originally unlicensed liquor - and later an unlicensed tavern, and eventually just tavern) and "shebang," in the sense of a tavern or place of entertainment.  There is also a possible connection to the "Hebrew" word, "shebang," in the sense of a group or organization, suggested by the early use of "Chebang" for an Oddfellows' Lodge and several Masonic writings of the period that claimed that the "Hebrew" word, "shebang," meant "seven" or "oath," and carried some deep meaning in Kaballah (whether it was actually Hebrew or not is another question).

I have many more early examples of use for "shebang," "chebang," "whole shoot" and "whole shebang" on my blog: 

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

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