Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Slang Devious or mischievous activity.
  • n. Slang Illicit sexual activity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. mischievous behaviour, dishonest or shady activity. ("I think there was some hanky-panky with the last election.")
  • n. sexual intercourse or other sexual activity, especially if illicit.
  • n. a debaucherous act; a sexual act that is considered inappropriate.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Jugglery; trickery; legerdemain. Also spelled hankey-pankey.

Etymologies

Alteration of hokey-pokey, alteration of hocus-pocus.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Possibly a corruption of the Romani expression hakk'ni panki ("great trick", "big con" and hence "shady dealings"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • This co-resonance does not involve any hanky-panky.

    The Bushman Way of Tracking God

  • When I renewed last year, I did it on my own, just followed instructions, and got my prórroga without any problems and without any bureaucratic hanky-panky. clinn

    ~~~> I Want to��

  • "Incomplete, selective and often misleading" is how Shyam Saran, a former foreign secretary, who played a key role in the Indo-U.S. Nuclear Deal, describes the cables to Outlook, the magazine which exposed media hanky-panky last year.

    Betwa Sharma: India Survives Its Week of Leaks

  • Navy officials, however, have a different view of his bedroom behavior at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command, near Charleston, S.C. Even though there is no evidence the 21-year-old sailor committed any hanky-panky or that his friend was not permitted to visit, Jones has been charged with dereliction of duty.

    Navy seeks to discharge sailor found asleep in bed with another male sailor

  • The editor handed it over, and he read it and hit the proverbial roof at how explicit the sex scenes were (spankings, bondage, whippings, and hanky-panky in public on the hood of a car were all involved, as I recall).

    Ed Greenwood–Day 5

  • The White House has claimed all along there was no political hanky-panky here, that they did not interfere in the Department of Energy's loan process, and that Solyndra's investors, at least one of which is an Obama donor, did not exert pressure.

    Who'll Challenge Romney?

  • “Sounds like a live one to me, Good Buddy, you two doin the hanky-panky?”

    Eddie's Story

  • This film instead postulates that Ince knew about hanky-panky between Chaplin and Davies and was shot as a result.

    The Cat’s Meow » DVDs Worth Watching

  • It isn't about romantic hanky-panky or animosity between the celebs and their pro partners, when the biggest relationship story so far is that Brandy called Maksim Chmerkovskiy "an ass ----" during rehearsals.

    Backstage at Dancing with the Stars: No Drama?

  • He has gotten all 50 states to officially join him in his investigation of all the various illegal hanky-panky (that's a non-technical term for "fraud") by the banks and Wall Street in the growing disaster over foreclosure proceedings in the courts.

    Chris Weigant: Friday Talking Points [143] -- Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Appeal?

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