I saw a phrase on a T-shirt but not knowing its meaning: I Put She in the Shenanigans. People say it's a funny tshirt, but I don't know the story behind it. What does She stand for? What does Shenanigans mean? Thank you for your help.

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  • SHE is an acronym for Safety, Health, Environment. Shennigans is short for Safety Health Environment Are Not Interesting Go And Nosh Animals. It's a joke about vegetarianism. – jimm101 Mar 9 '18 at 18:21

It is of American origin, dating from the mid-nineteenth century. The OED definition and examples are below.

I presume the T-shirt was worn by a girl or a woman and was making a feminist statement of some kind - drawing attention to the fact that the first three letters were "she...". It doesn't surprise me that you have related it to St Patrick's Day (though I don't follow exactly how) - the joke definitely has an Irish ring about it. Indeed though the OED says the origin of shenanigans is obscure - it wouldn't surprise me if it were found to have an Irish provenance.

rig. U.S. Thesaurus » Categories »

Trickery, skulduggery, machination, intrigue; teasing, ‘kidding’, nonsense; (usually pl.) a plot, a trick, a prank, an exhibition of high spirits, a carry-on.

1855 Town Talk (San Francisco) 25 Apr. 2 Are you quite sure? No shenanigan?

1856 Spirit of Age (Sacramento, Calif.) 30 Apr. 2 These facts indicate that there is some shenanegan going on.

1857 C. E. De Long Jrnl. 15 Aug. in Calif. Hist. Soc. Q. (1930) IX. 156 Race came off Whiskey Bill winner, the Mare's rider held in, and Smith pronouncing it shenanigan.

1862 ‘M. Twain’ Let. May (1917) I. iii. 77 Consider them all..guilty (of ‘shenanigan’) until they are proved innocent.

1871 Evening Post (Chicago) Jan. (Schele de Vere 632) To go to work and try better next time, instead of fooling members of Congress by a pair of black eyes... No shenannigan, Vinnie!

1877 J. R. Bartlett Dict. Americanisms (ed. 4) Shenanigan. 1. A trick in which there is cheating. California. 2. Chaff; foolery; nonsense, especially when advanced to cover some scheme or little game. Yale College.

1893 E. J. Milliken 'Arry Ballads 80/2 Never mind their shenanigan, Charlie; it don't do much 'urt, anyhow.

1897 Outing 29 483/1 A man who is firmly kind, but who will stand no shinanigan.

1901 W. S. Walker In the Blood xxxi. 332 We're mates all round, an' no more shenannikin.

1901 R. Barr Victors v. 81 If I were to pay them they might think there was some shenanigan about it.

1926 E. Ferber Show Boat xiv. 305 I'd never had a fight on my boat and wasn't going to begin any such low life shenanigans now.

1928 Sat. Evening Post 10 Mar. 11/2 The renunciation of Mr Coolidge was a distinct disappointment to the great mass of the Republican Party,..and this left the way open for some astute shenanigan in various states.

1930 ‘S. S. Van Dine’ Scarab Murder Case xv. 212 There's too much shenanigan going on around here to suit me. I want action.

1935 S. O'Casey Let. c10 Feb. (1975) I. 540 It is really hateful that I should be compelled to turn my thoughts to the pious shinanachin of a few Jesuits & a group of Methodist Preachers.

1936 ‘R. Hyde’ Passport to Hell x. 152 Two more followed him to take care of him and see he didn't lose his pay-roll shenannigin in his Irish way with the mademoiselles.

1938 J. I. Rodale King's Eng. on Horseback 137/1 Mischief,..Shenanigins.

1960 T. Griffith Waist-high Culture ii. 81 Readers [of newspapers] do not recognize every shenanigan inflicted upon them.

1969 in H. Halpert & G. M. Story Christmas Mumming in Newfoundland 90 The entire household looks on, laughing at the girls' shenanigans.

1973 Nation Rev. (Melbourne) 31 Aug. 1448/2 (heading) Shennanigans behind the silver screen.

1974 Ridge Citizen (Johnston, S. Carolina) 18 Apr. 2/1 We don't condone whatever wrongdoing or shenanigans that may have taken place at Watergate or elsewhere.

1976 ‘R. Lewis’ Witness my Death ii. 56 There might have been a certain amount of shenanigans going on behind the scenes.

1978 N.Y. Mag. 3 Apr. 16/2 House Calls—Glenda Jackson, Art Carney, Richard Benjamin, and Charlie Matthau in a film directed by Howard Zieff, about medical shenanigans in and out of a hospital.

1980 Times 3 Jan. 10/4 Doubtful political shenanigans..in the Central Pacific.

  • I think "feminist" might be better replaced by the broader "identity". Is being involved in shenanigans necessarily a feminist act? I would associate it more closely with a youthful (or carefree or carousing or trickster or devil-may-care or even risky) lifestyle. – Chemomechanics Mar 8 '18 at 18:58

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