Printable Version
Pronunciation: hn-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 or den 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.)

Dr. Goodword,

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