or han·key-pan·key

See more synonyms for hanky-panky on Thesaurus.com
noun Informal.
  1. unethical behavior; deceit: When the bank teller bought an expensive car and house, they suspected there might be some hanky-panky going on.
  2. illicit sexual relations.
Also han·ky pank.

Origin of hanky-panky

1835–45; rhyming compound; compare initial h, p of higgledy-piggledy, hocus-pocus, hodgepodge, etc.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hanky-panky

Contemporary Examples of hanky-panky

Historical Examples of hanky-panky

  • If there was any hanky-panky, I couldn't see how he planned to work it.

    Card Trick

    Walter Bupp AKA Randall Garrett

  • Another piece of hanky-panky frequently practised on the stage requires two performers.

    The Art of Amusing

    Frank Bellew

  • I tell you, there's more in that Eastern hanky-panky than meets the eye; beyond that I'll offer no opinion.

    Merry-Garden and Other Stories

    Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch

  • If you play any hanky-panky tricks—look here, Da Souza, I'll kill you, sure!

    A Millionaire of Yesterday

    E. Phillips Oppenheim

  • Some hanky-panky with regimental money; every one knows how India plays the devil with a man's sense of right and wrong.


    Norman Douglas

British Dictionary definitions for hanky-panky


noun informal
  1. dubious or suspicious behaviour
  2. foolish behaviour or talk
  3. illicit sexual relations

Word Origin for hanky-panky

C19: variant of hocus-pocus
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for hanky-panky

also hanky panky, 1841, "trickery," British slang, possibly a variant of hoky-poky "deception, fraud," altered from hocus-pocus.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper