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Shindig

/ˈʃɪnˌdɪg/

Noun, Informal.

1. An elaborate, noisy or large dance, party, or other celebration

2. Another word for shindy

Etymology

Either:

1. 1855–60, Americanism; shin dig; compare slang shinscraper dance

2. 1871, probably from shindy “a spree, merrymaking” (1821), perhaps from shinty, name of a Scottish game akin to hockey (1771), now obsolete.

Shindy

/ˈʃɪndi/

Noun, plural shin·dies. Informal.

1. A row; rumpus.

2. A shindig.

Etymology 
1810 –20; variant of obsolete shinty row, orig., game resembling fieldhockey.

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Assuming shindig was a nonsensical word, a neologism created because of the sounds of its parts rather than any meaning behind them, I went to my dictionary to check.

Apparently, the definition is much closer to home: it comes from the word shinty. Shinty is not, contrary the dictionary definition, obsolete – neither the word nor the sport. If I wanted to truly embarrass myself, I could post a picture of me playing shinty as a young girl, complete with multi-coloured stripy toe socks.

Shinty and shindig, in my mind, are worlds apart.

Shinty, the game, is aggressive. Imagine hockey, but the balls allowed to fly through the air. Towards people’s faces.

The urban dictionary definition for shindig suggests something much less violent:

A small party, not quite full scale. Generally a shindig consists of 5-20 people hanging out at the host’s house, but they may be held at other locations such as a beach. Shindigs almost always involve alcoholic beverages, usually beer. Often, marijuana is smoked as well.

A shindig usually does not escalate into a large full scale party because it is meant to be a low key night, avoiding any complications such as cleaning up vomit, unwanted guests, picking up trash the rude guests leave lying wherever they drop it, putting everything back in its proper place, eliciting attention from neighbours and local law enforcement, etc.

My mom was out for the day, so I called some of my friends and we had a little shindig.

… Like I said, smaller-scale, less intense.

The word shindig, however, if removed from its etymology, however, does suggest a party, with a bit of dancing. The assonance of the [ɪ] sounds and the harsh consonants make it sounds like a wee jive.

What do you like about it?

 

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