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The whole shebang

Posted by ESC on April 27, 2004

In Reply to: Whole shebang posted by Henry on April 27, 2004

: : : I heard that a "shebang" was what union soldiers called their tents or hovels they built for themselves in the Andersonville POW camp during the civil war.

: : Merriam-Webster says origin unknown. I'll look in a Civil War dictionary and see if it's listed.

: It may be related to the Irish word shebeen.
: shebang \She*bang"\, n. [Cf. Shebeen.] A jocosely depreciative name for a dwelling or shop. [Slang,U.S.] Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
: Webster's 1913 Dictionary Definition: SHEBEEN: \She*been"\, n. [Of Irish origin; cf. Ir. seapa a shop.] A low public house; especially, a place where spirits and other excisable liquors are illegally and privately sold. [Ireland]
: It's not clear if this word has the same derivation; shebang n : an entire system; used in the phrase "the whole shebang" Source: WordNet ® 1.6, © 1997 Princeton University

"Shebang -- A temporary hut or shelter." From "The Encyclopedia of Civil War Usage: An Illustrated Compendium of the Everyday Language of Soldiers and Civilians" by Webb Garrison with Cheryl Garrison. Cumberland House Publishing Inc., Nashville, Tenn., 2001.

Also: "meaning a temporary shelter, hovel, or shack in English since the 18th century (from Anglo-Irish 'shebeen,' an illegal drinking establishment, from the Gaelic 'seibe,' mug, mugful). 'The whole shebang' is an American expression of 1879." From "I Hear America Talking" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976).