hocus-pocus; trickery.
Often Hokey-Pokey. a dance performed in a circle, or a song describing the simple movements of the dance.
ice cream as formerly sold by street vendors.
New Zealand. a toffee-flavored candy or ice cream popular in New Zealand.


Hokey-Pokey. a brand of white chocolate ice cream with honeycomb and caramel.

Origin of hokey-pokey

First recorded in 1840–50; variant of hocus-pocus
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hokey-pokey

Historical Examples of hokey-pokey

  • Hot gauffrette and hokey-pokey venders are always near at hand.

    Paris Vistas

    Helen Davenport Gibbons

  • Here is the poorer Italian colony; organ-grinders, ice-cream-barrow-men, "hokey-pokey" sellers, and their like.

  • They both laughed, feeling like mischievous children who had played a successful trick on the hokey-pokey man.

  • I didn't notice anything except a hokey-pokey seller, adding his mite to the infant mortality of the district.

    The Clarion

    Samuel Hopkins Adams

British Dictionary definitions for hokey-pokey



NZ a brittle toffee sold in lumps
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 hokey-pokey

1847, "false cheap material," perhaps an alteration of hocus-pocus, or from the nonsense chorus and title of a comic song (Hokey Pokey Whankey Fong) that was popular c.1830. Applied especially to cheap ice cream sold by street vendors (1884), in Philadelphia, and perhaps other places, it meant shaved ice with artificial flavoring. The words also were the title of a Weber-Fields musical revue from 1912. The modern dance song of that name hit the U.S. in 1950 ("Life" described it Nov. 27, 1950, as "a tuneless stomp that is now sweeping the U.C.L.A. campus"), but it is said to have originated in Britain in World War II, perhaps from a Canadian source.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper