Venn diagram of "shenanigans"


Some software engineers at GE used this venn diagram to explain the definition of the English word "shenanigans" to a Chinese colleague. The outer, all-encompassing circle is labeled "The Space of Foolishness". Within that, American Dad and YouTube fall on the line between "Bad" and "Stupid." Hooligans are the connection between "Dangerous" and "Bad." And, finally, "Shenanigans" lie at the junction between "Silly/Wacky" and "Bad."


    1. Yes, the overlap between dangerous and sstupid would have to be “Jackass” IMHO.

  1. That needs to be made into a T-Shirt, stat. (Or expanded into an xkcd strip.)

  2. I think this could easily be adapted to become an org chart/mission statement for the company I currently work for. And most corporations, I suspect.

  3. I’m sure they’ve missed an intersection between stupid and dangerous, not to mention stupid, dangerous and bad.

  4. There needs to be an overlap between “stupid” and “dangerous”. That’s where the Darwin Awards come in.

    And it seems like there should be an overlap between “silly” and “stupid” too. Maybe like lousy jokes in TV ads, or cute but stupid kid videos?

  5. Where are ‘evil’ shenanigans?

    /I swear to God I’m going to pistol whip the next guy to say “Shenanigans”.

    1. Hey, Farva! What’s the name of that place you like with the blooming onions and all the wacky signs hanging everywhere?

      anyway, I love the word “shenanigans”, but had always assumed it was a Yiddish word. Nope. Looked it up about a year ago (yes, I have 3 dictionaries at home. What?)

      New Oxford Am Dictionary (on Mac): Origin unknown

      Miriam Webster’s Collegiate 10th ed: Origin unknown

      Webster’s New World 3rd collegiate ed: (paraphrasing from memory) from the Iroqois “to behave like the fox”

      if that’s wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

  6. Okay, my first question would be, if “bad” has been sufficiently defined. I mean “bad driver”, “bad taste”, “bad person” and “bad harvest” can be expressed with different synonyms. A “bad driver” isn’t an “evil driver”, for example.

    1. “Evil” is typically defined as bad + intent, unless you want to call that “malicious” and add metaphysical/theological meaning to “evil.”

      Bad, in most cases, can best be defined in utilitarian terms.

  7. That “silly,” “dangerous,” and “stupid” apparently have no overlap raises more questions than it answers.

  8. The combination of silly/dangerous would perhaps be best exemplified by those Jackass movie goons.

    Stupid/dangerous? So many options: unprotected sex with IV using sex workers, mixing bleach and ammonia for household cleaning, U.S. fiscal policy…The list goes on. . .

  9. I agree that they could all overlap, but this is simply a cross-section of the larger dimensional (3-d, etc) diagram that includes all of these spaces.

  10. I like how ATHF is clearly withing the Space of Foolishness (SoF) but seems to defy further categorization.

    “Your simple two-dimensional white board graphics cannot contain us.”
    “Can’t and WON’T! You GOT that!?”

  11. I am enamoured by ‘The Space Of Foolishness’

    What a great term; I have abided in that space for lo, many a long year…

  12. I like this, but I’m distracted by the lack of parallelism among the grammatical categories. “Shenanigans” are acts, while “hooligans” are agents of acts. “Hooliganism” or “hooliganry” convey the output of hooligans, but there’s a lexical gap for the individual acts of hooligans. So that means there is an ambiguity in determining the grammatical category of “youtubigans”: are they the agents of stupid/bad acts, or the stupid/bad acts themselves?

  13. My heart is warmed seeing that Aqua Teen Hunger Force made the general space but did not cross into Bad. I concur, gentlemen, I concur.

  14. I think these GE software engineers need to be found guilty of practicing English without a license.

  15. The overlap of “Dangerous” and “Stupid” is called “Sarah “Palin”.

    Refudiate that, bitches.

  16. Yep, needs a sub-space for Evil Shenanigans.

    Mac: But our shenanigans are cheeky and fun!
    Thorny: [referring to Farva] Yeah, and his shenanigans are cruel and tragic.
    Foster: [after a pause] Which… makes them not really shenanigans at all.
    Mac: [in a silly voice] Evil shenanigans!
    -Super Troopers

  17. Should we also require the correct spelling of “American”? It appears to be spelled “Americen” in the diagram.

  18. Sounds like they were infected with the Jessica Nagy humor virus (see Indexed at )

  19. Sorry, Mr. Burns, but I don’t go in for these backdoor shenanigans. Sure, I’m flattered, maybe even a little curious, but the answer is no!

  20. Michael Jackson’s a hooligan?? Sorry, couldn’t resist.

    Seriously, planking could be the link between stupid and dangerous.

Comments are closed.