Printable Version
Pronunciation: shin-dig Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: (Slang) 1. A country dance party. 2. A lively, informal social get-together of any kind.

Notes: Shindigs once were limited to rural areas in United States, but the word has spread along with the popularity of country-western music. It came up accompanied by no relatives, but if I might make a suggestion, I would suggest shindigetty for the adjective meaning "like a shindig".

In Play: Because of the origin of today's word and its slanginess, it is often employed to refer to parties that get out of control: "I was invited to a shindig at Hardy Partier's tomorrow night and don't know if I should take a date or a bodyguard." It is used just as often to refer to a lively party: "Were you at Hank Epanki's shindig Saturday night? I heard it was quite a to-do."

Word History: This word might be just as it appears to be, a get-together in which everyone digs into their dance partner's shins. J. R. Bartlett in his Dictionary of Americanisms, 2nd edition (1859) defines as shin-dig as a Southern regionalism meaning "a blow on the shins". The fact that it remains a slang word reinforces assumption that its origins are rural, since words from rural dialects are generally kept out of the mainstream lexicon. If this is the case, it was certainly guided by an old noun, shindy "an uproarious bout of merrymaking". Shinty or shinny was also an early name for ice-hockey. I suppose ice-hockey at the end of the 18th century could be seen as bout of uproarious merrymaking. (We can't throw a shindig for Albert Skiles, but we can thank him for suggesting today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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