What is the origin of the phrase “hunky dory”?
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They both cite the Japanese road theory, the Word Detective then adds:
And Michael Quinion adds:
My favourite quote is from the Word Detective:
But that's pretty nebulous.
Edit: I'll add that I don't see how you'd get hunky-dory from Honcho Dori, which would be pronounced something like "HOE-NN-CHO DOE-(d)EE" ( the (d) representing a soft vocalized tongue tap).
The earliest I found is in the 1866 book Tony Pastor's Waterfall Songster: A Splendid Collection of the Newest Comic Songs, Written and Sung by the Renowned Comic Vocalist, Tony Pastor, at his Celebrated Opera House, in a song called "Hunkydory":
It's the second song in the book after the eponymous "Waterfall Song", so perhaps it was a popular one.
Gary Martin of The Phrase Finder found the same song (with almost identical words and to the same tune) four years earlier:
Martin found some other 1866 quotations:
I found some 1880s snippets that offer explanations. First, Library of Universal Knowledge, Volume 1 (1880):
Hunky dory isn't in the OED, but this US slang meaning of the hunky is, the noun dating from 1861 ("he was ‘a hunkey boy’"), with similar hunk from 1856 "Now he felt himself all hunk").
Second and less believable, Cruise of the revenue steamer Corwin in Alaska and the N. W. Arctic ocean in 1881 ...: Notes and memoranda ... (1883):
Here's what I found in a New York State newspaper from 1870:
Google translates "non compos" as "not in control" but its translation of the full expression leaves much to the imagination: "Dover hook on the uptake." Origin in post-Civil War time seems to be realistic.
Derived from the Latin, "Hunkous Dorius" who was known for his fair disposition said to arise from his parentage, his father being an owl and his mother, Sensoua, the step-sister of the goddess Venus.
Hunkous Dorius, was the hero of a number of stories, he was said to be a teacher, a sailor and an athlete of tremendous prowess. When the Discus was thrown properly, sometimes a shout or cry of "Hunky Dory" would be heard, as an exclamation as to the righteousness of the throw.
To this day its usage remains a positive statement of the current state of affairs and is frequently used in programming androids and bio-forms to provide a positive null state for default programming functions and indicates a properly working programming state with all basic variable defined and ready to populate with proper values.
protected by tchrist Aug 13 '14 at 14:35
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