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Hunky-dory

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Hunky-dory

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Dec 02, 2013 10:07 pm

• hunky-dory •


Pronunciation: hên-kee-do-ree • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective, adverb

Meaning: (Slang) Fine, entirely satisfactory, copacetic, OK.

Notes: Hunky-dory has several more obscure relatives, all used to indicate a satisfactory state of affairs: hunky, hunky-doodle, hunky-dunky, and hunkum-bunkum. These various compounds formed on the base word hunky are examples of the linguistic phenomenon of rhyming compounds a variation on the base word added to the base word. Okey-dokey is another example of the rhyming compound.

In Play: The rhyming element lends an informal warmth to hunky-dory that is not present in fine or satisfactory. Use it to let someone know you are truly glad about the current situation: "That's fine by me; in fact, it's just hunky-dory." Look out though, this word can also be interpreted as sarcastic, the absence of both satisfaction and warmth: "The nocturnal sounds of angry voices and smashing crockery from the apartment next door suggest that my neighbors' marriage is far from hunky-dory."

Word History: One suggested derivation traces this word to the satisfactory experiences anticipated by American sailors going ashore at Honcho-dori, the waterfront area of Yokohama, Japan. But the fact that hunky-dory was first used during the American Civil War, some time before Americans began frequenting Yokohama, detracts from the credibility of such an explanation. It is more likely that it derives from the Dutch honk, a goal in a children's game: home in English. English then modified the spelling of the word to hunk. From the safe haven at the successful conclusion of a game, it's just a short semantic step to the warm satisfaction of hunky-dory. (We hope things are hunky-dory in the life of Claude McCann, animal trainer extraordinaire, for 'twas he who suggested today's Good Word.)
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Re: Hunky-dory

Postby MTC » Tue Dec 03, 2013 1:21 am

An expression I use frequently for laughs or as a conversation starter. In my personal experience familiarity with "hunky-dory" correlates with age; the older the more familiar, the younger the less familiar. Usage of hunky-dory peaks during WWII, then dips before it rockets off recently.
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Re: Hunky-dory

Postby David Myer » Tue Dec 03, 2013 5:42 am

This one is very common in Australia (in fact, I thought it was Australian) and I don't think I have heard it used in UK - but I may be wrong on that.

I was moved to look at your 'Rhyming Compounds' because a fascination for me has been the un-researched observation that a vastly disproportionate number of such words start with an 'h'. I have long wondered why. Your list confirms the observation. But it is missing a few:

Hari Kari
Hand stand
Harum Scarum
Hot Pot
Hotch Potch
Hodge Podge

No doubt there's more.

But why is 'h' so popular for these terms? :D (happy chappy)
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Re: Hunky-dory

Postby call_copse » Tue Dec 03, 2013 7:58 am

Cha-cha-cha-cha-Changes!

I guess that's the first thing that comes to mind when faced with this expression - which might otherwise be used humourously.

Turn, and face the strange...
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Re: Hunky-dory

Postby Audiendus » Tue Dec 03, 2013 12:25 pm

David Myer wrote:This one is very common in Australia (in fact, I thought it was Australian) and I don't think I have heard it used in UK - but I may be wrong on that.

"Hunky-dory" is quite common in the UK.

Other examples of rhymes, alliteration etc:

ack-ack (anti-aircraft fire)
Ally Pally (Alexandra Palace, London)
Andy Pandy (1950s British children's TV series and character)
Barmy Army (travelling group of noisy England cricket supporters)
busy Lizzie (flowering plant)
brain drain (departure or emigration of skilled people)
boo-boo (mistake)
capercaillie (species of grouse)
cha-cha-cha (ballroom dance)
chock-a-block (crammed together or filled to capacity)
flibbertigibbet (scatterbrained person)
folderol (nonsense)
gobbledygook (obscure jargon)
happy-clappy (worshipping exuberantly)
juju (lucky charm, object with supernatural power)
Looney Tunes
mishmash (confused mixture)
mutatis mutandis (with the necessary changes being made)
quockerwodger (19th century string puppet)
rinky-dink (antiquated, insignificant, inferior)
ro-ro (roll-on/roll-off vessel)
Rubik's Cube
snickersnee (old knife-type weapon)
so-so (neither good nor bad)
super-duper (excellent, wonderful)
tic(k)-tac(k)-toe (children's game; "noughts and crosses" in UK)
Tricky Dicky
trick or treat (Halloween game)
Last edited by Audiendus on Thu Dec 05, 2013 9:54 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Hunky-dory

Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Dec 03, 2013 12:49 pm

Howdy Doody
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Re: Hunky-dory

Postby Slava » Tue Dec 03, 2013 1:24 pm

David Myer wrote:Hari Kari
Hand stand
Harum Scarum
Hot Pot
Hotch Potch
Hodge Podge

Of these, only harum-scarum is a rhyming compound.
Hara kiri is Japanese.
Hand stand is what you are doing if you stand on your hands
Hot Pot is just that.
The last two are variants of the same thing, and come from words that boil down to meaning "shaken pot."
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Re: Hunky-dory

Postby MTC » Tue Dec 03, 2013 9:49 pm

Slava wrote:Of these, only harum-scarum is a rhyming compound.
...
The last two (Hotch Potch and Hodge Podge) are variants of the same thing, and come from words that boil down to meaning "shaken pot."


This is a distinction without a difference. Both words still meet the definition of rhyming compounds: "A compound word that contains rhyming elements, such as blackjack, fuddy duddy, pooper-scooper, and voodoo."

(http://grammar.about.com/od/rs/g/Rhyming-Compound.htm)

By the way, hunky-dory itself does not meet the more restrictive definition of rhyming compounds given in the article about them on the Goodword site: "Rhyming Compounds. Actual rhyming compounds, unsurprisingly, rhyme in the traditional sense of this word. Fuzzy-wuzzy, handy-dandy, and hanky-panky rhyme. The initial word is repeated identically except for the first letter, which changes unpredictably."
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Re: Hunky-dory

Postby David Myer » Wed Dec 04, 2013 6:37 am

Sorry to have caused a bit of a stir here. I agree that some of my suggestions beginning with 'h' may not be strictly rhyming compounds, but I thought mine were useful additions and in the spirit of those listed under "Rhyming Compounds" (including Doodad and Hunky dory) on the website.

It is surely unfair to dismiss Hari-Kari on the basis that it is Japanese, if one of your prime examples is Hoi-Polloi (which is Greek, is it not?) Both terms are widely used in English and in my view are excellent examples of rhyming compounds. It is probably because of their rhyming that they have caught on and are now in wide use.

Hand stand and hot pot may well be merely coincidental rhymes, but so, I would suggest, are several others in the Rhyming Compounds list such as prime time and hotshot. But hey, let's not quibble. I put them up just for fun. They don't have to be added to the list.

But none of the conversation has answered the original question about why 'h' words are so disproportionately represented in Rhyming Compounds. Any ideas on that?
Last edited by David Myer on Wed Dec 04, 2013 6:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hunky-dory

Postby David Myer » Wed Dec 04, 2013 6:45 am

And if you have two combs, one kept in the bathroom and one in your travel bag, might one be a home comb and the other a roam comb?
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Re: Hunky-dory

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Dec 04, 2013 1:40 pm

And for those awkward situations with less than
'clean' persons: your 'loan comb'.
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Re: Hunky-dory

Postby Slava » Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:38 pm

Going back to hari-kari, I should retract my comment. Since hari-kari is an Anglicization of the Japanese hara-kiri, the rhyme does fit.

My personal take on rhyming compounds is that they are intentionally created and with a nonsense aspect. Itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, etc.

For some strange reason I am comfortable with accepting compounds that don't rhyme. Perhaps it is because of the rhythm. Thus, hunky-dory is fine by me.

That is just me, though.
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Re: Hunky-dory

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Dec 04, 2013 4:25 pm

Thanks for the new rhyming compounds. I'll add them to the page.
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Re: Hunky-dory

Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed Dec 04, 2013 11:04 pm

And David, never apologize for "causing a bit of a stir here." We love stirring the pot! Bring it on!
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Re: Hunky-dory

Postby MTC » Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:48 am

Right O! The watched pot never boils. We prefer stirred pots over here, David. Keep churning!
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