This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.



Friday, 20 May 2016

Word To Use Today: hunky-dory.

If everything is hunky-dory then everything is fine.

Hunky-dory is marked as informal in my Collins dictionary, and in Britain I'd expect to hear it from someone who might also use Cockney Rhyming Slang.

But, hey, why shouldn't the rest of us be allowed to have some fun?

Word To Use Today: hunky-dory. Hunky-dory is one of those words people enjoy squabbling about. It's definitely American - or, if it's not American, then it's definitely Scots. Or Japanese. Or Latin. Or it comes from a native Alaskan language. 

Or possibly somewhere else.

Anyway, if it's American it might come from hunk, from the Dutch honk, meaning a goal or a 'safe' area in a game. The dory bit in this case is there just to make the word jollier.

The American George Christie's song of 1862,  Hunkey Dorey, began:

One of the boys am I,
That always am in clover;
With spirits light and high,
'Tis well I'm known all over.
I am always to be found,
A-singing in my glory;
With your smiling faces round,
'Tis then I'm hunkey dorey.



On the other hand, if hunky-dory is Japanese then it's perhaps from Honcho dori the name of a street in Yokohama well-known as a place of entertainment for sailors.

The Scots theory is based on unco' dour: but as that means strangely sullen it's hard to see what it has to do with hunky-dory.

The Latin sporting hero Hunkous Dorius, which I found cited on-line, is, I'm pretty certain, nothing but a figment of the imagination of the anonymous poster.

The idea from Irving C Rosse, in his 1883 The First Landing on Wrangel Island with some Remarks on the Northern Inhabitants, that a Bering Straits native language of the people he calls Nakoorooks, gave rise to hunky-dory (un-gi-doo-ruk apparently means huge) is so charming that I really wish it were true.

But I'm afraid I doubt it.



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