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Hanky-panky

Hanky-panky is a word that originated in the mid-1800s. We will look at the definition of the word hanky-panky, as well as the evolution of that definition. In addition, we’ll look at where the term came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Hanky-panky is behavior that is slightly but not seriously improper, often but not always applied to sexual behavior. First used in the 1840s, hanky-panky originally meant double-dealing or trickery. It is assumed that hanky-panky is a variant of the term hocus-pocus,  explaining its original meaning of trickery. By the the turn of the century hanky-panky came to mean something slightly but not seriously improper, and by the 1930s it came to often refer to naughty behavior of a sexual nature. The term has been used as the name of several songs, a movie and even a cocktail. Note that the word hanky-panky is hyphenated, it is a compound word which is a word formed by joining together two words to make a new word with a unique meaning.


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Examples

When management hanky-panky is suspected, should a board hire a forensic auditor? (The Los Angeles Times)

Add to that the heightened awareness of the role, or potential role, of Philippine casinos in money-laundering operations and other similar hanky-panky – which is not to accuse the casinos here of wrongdoing, it’s just that sort of business – and the prospects of being able to sweep up the business Macau has lost and is continuing to lose begin to look very shaky indeed. (The Manila Times)

Buildings and Grounds Manager Bruce King said police aides interrupted some “hanky-panky” between students on Wednesday. (The Advocate)

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