What’s a Shebang?

images  I had no idea. Of course, I knew the phrase “the whole shebang,” meaning the totality of an entity. But I never knew a shebang was a specific thing until the other night when I was watching a documentary about a group of archeologists excavating the Civil War site of Ft. Lawton, in Georgia. Those archeologists had to spend some nights on the site and set up their individual shebangs (small and uncomfortable). A shebang is a rustic shelter or primitive hut. Did you know that? Neither did I until I watched this somewhat tedious documentary. But I learned something because I watched the whole shebang.


Filed under All things having to do with the English language

4 responses to “What’s a Shebang?

  1. Kathy Sandel

    Well, I AM disappointed. I could have made up a more plausible and interesting source for shebang. Those are really little, not very special tents. I picture the “whole shebang” to be the whole kit and kibootle? Talk about source???


  2. Kathy, the word is of unknown origin. Sounds to me like it might have roots in Urdu or Hindi, but I’m just guessing. Those tents were made from branches and other materials that were found on the prison grounds, so the pickings were slim. Thousands of Union prisoners were held there. The entire area that is now a lawn was dirt in the 1860s, and the tents were closely packed. I highly recommend the book ANDERSONVILLE, by Mackinley Cantor, if you want to know what a Confederate Civil War prison was like. I first read it when I was 13 and have never forgotten the impression it made on me.


    • Kathy Sandel

      Yes, I also read Andersonville when I was a teenager. Good book. However, you didn’t even mention how clever I was with the kit and kibootle reference… and I don’t have a clue what the origin of that expression is, either. It just popped out, as do many of my mother and grandmother’s old southern expressions from time to time. Often I find myself wondering, what does that even mean???


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