Posted by Rudi Dozauer on September 25, 2005
In the American phrase "the whole shebang", meaning "the whole thing", the word "shebang" is said to be of obscure origin ( OED ). I encountered the word in a hand-written Civil War diary (1861-65 )with the meaning of crude, quickly constructed shelter. It seems to me that it can be safely derived from a Latin word "capanna" which gave rise to Old Provençal "cabana", French "cabane", English "cabin", etc. The English spelling serves to hide the French which one would expect in Northern French ( save Norman French ), as in "char" vs. the Anglo-Norman "car". The change of /a/ to shva is due to the stress on the last syllable, retained from French. The change of a final nasal to is attested in colloquial speech, such as "dang" for "damn".