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What exactly is a shindig?

I tried to translate it in Google Translate into spanish but it gave me two translations

  • Fiesta (party)
  • Pelea (fight)

So which one is it?


The context I heard it on was a chapter of The Firm, where a lawyer tells another one she hopes their "little shindig" didn't scare him off, or something like that. She was referring to a little event they held for their clients, where he was introduced to some other lawyers, who weren't particularly friendly with him.

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closed as general reference by Dusty, yoozer8, Lynn, Hugo, jwpat7 Feb 28 '12 at 16:42

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Is there a difference? (-: But seriously, it means either party or event in the U.S. as well. – Peter Shor Feb 28 '12 at 0:36

From Merriam-Webster:

shindig, noun :

1 : a festive occasion: as

a : a social gathering often with dancing {every community has its weekly shindig in some farm home -- American Guide Series: Oklahoma}

b : a usually large often overly lavish party {coming-out party ... was the gaudiest shindig since the war -- Time}

c : an elaborate celebration often commemorating some special event and involving extensive planning {to mark the day with the largest peacetime parade ... I had drawn the assignment of assembling and staging this enormous shindig -- Frank Zachary}

2 : SHINDY 2 {touched off the whole bloody shindig that raged for years -- Alan Devoe}

...where shindy is defined as:

shindy, noun :

1 : SHINDIG 1 {the summer tourist season ... is marked by galas, festivals, and other shindys -- Holiday}

2 : a general commotion : noisy row : FRACAS, UPROAR {created a shindy, saying that they were already an oppressed class -- F.A.Swinnerton} {it must look bad after that shindy I had with the director -- C.D.Lewis}

I'm not sure that I have ever heard shindig used in the sense of shindy in the US.

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+1: OED also confirms one sense of shindig as shindy (a row, commotion,). I don't think I've ever heard shindy, but I'm quite familiar with shindig to mean an altercation / fight. Usually in the sense of a mass public brawl (football hooligans, street gangs, etc., who probably see it as something of a party anyway). – FumbleFingers Feb 28 '12 at 2:11

In the UK, at least, shindig almost always means party. It's colloquial and normally implies you know the host well, even if it's a formal event like their wedding. It's used in a similar way to "knees-up".

I've never heard shindig used to mean a fight.You may be getting confused with skirmish?

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Agreed. (Fellow Brit here.) – Noldorin Feb 28 '12 at 1:53

In the US, it's a lively party.

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shindig n. informal 1. a large, lively party, esp. one celebrating something.

My online dictionary tags the word as "informal." I thought that might be worth mentioning.

Also, given the context, I can understand why the word shindig would be used. "I hope our little party didn't scare you off," wouldn't sound quite right, nor would, "I hope our little gala didn't scare you off." By using a more informal word, the allusion to some possible improprieties at the event seems stronger. The writer may have even deliberately chosen a word phonetically similar to shenanigans, but I'm only surmising.

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