H is for Hanky Panky

The Alphabet Series


New Thoughts on Words

H is for hanky panky, two words joined by alliteration, not meaning. We hear the lyrics of Tommy James and the Shondells, “My baby does the hanky panky”, and picture a couple making out in a 1966 Mustang convertible. There is a mischievous fooling around atmosphere and know the girl is easy.

But what is hanky panky?

Webster’s (Standard Reference Works Publishing Co. 1956) definition; The meaningless professional talk of a juggler or magician, jugglery or legerdemain.

Sounds like politicians talking about the sequestration.

The term hanky panky is sighted in the first edition of ‘Punch‘ magazine Volume 1 September 1841. In London court, a con-man said to the judge,

“Only a little hanky-panky, my lud. The people likes it; they loves to be cheated before their faces. One, two, three-presto-begone. I’ll show your ludship as pretty a trick of putting a piece of money in your eye and taking it from your elbow, as you ever beheld.”

A later reference is from George Bernhard Shaw’s Geneva, 1939:

She: No hanky panky. I am respectable; and I mean to keep respectable.
He: I pledge you my word that my intentions are completely honorable.

Hanky panky defined as unethical, and referenced as Hocus Pocus or Hokey Pokey, grew in popularity when sexy and illicit acts were included.

It was playful and I recall teaching kindergartners the hokey pokey to practice eye hand coordination skills.

The closest we can get to that ridiculous fun for all is the Harlem Shake.

Google Hanky Panky and you will discover many companies sell lingerie and naughty items, but only one company makes the lace.

599290_10151373267023315_1455748430_nKlauber Brothers is a sixth generation family business and creators of an exclusive Signature Lace for Hanky Panky, a leader in intimate apparel.

The Klauber family was lucky to escape the treacherous trickery that forced them to surrender their business and never considered they would be in the  hanky panky business. They fled Nazis Germany on the SS Manhattan. It was the last boat to America in 1939.

Their story and craftmanship adds sobering thoughts to hanky panky, but I still hear lyrics in my head and think about a randition of the Harlem Shake, me mouthing the words…My baby does the hanky panky. I saw her walkin’ on down the line You know I saw her for the very first time A pretty little girl standin’ all alone “Hey pretty baby, can I take you home?”

…just saying


12 thoughts on “H is for Hanky Panky

  1. Very clever and informative girlfriend but I’m partial to “the stupidest word in the history of man made to describe promiscuity” definition! But to be sure, both the word and the definitions produce giggles.


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