c. 1610s, "legal quibbling, sophistry, mean or petty tricks," from French chicanerie "trickery," from Middle French chicaner "to pettifog, quibble" (15c.), which is of unknown origin, perhaps from Middle Low German schikken "to arrange, bring about," or from the name of a golf-like game once played in Languedoc. Also compare French chic "small, little," as a noun "a small piece; finesse, subtlety." Thornton's "American Glossary" has shecoonery (1845), which it describes as probably a corruption of chicanery.
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