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[hoh-kee-poh-kee] /ˈhoʊ kiˈpoʊ ki/
hocus-pocus; trickery.
ice cream as formerly sold by street vendors.
Origin of hokey-pokey
1840-50; variant of hocus-pocus Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for hokey-pokey
Historical Examples
  • Here is the poorer Italian colony; organ-grinders, ice-cream-barrow-men, "hokey-pokey" sellers, and their like.

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

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

    The Lion and The Mouse Charles Klein
  • 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


another word for hocus-pocus (sense 1), hocus-pocus (sense 2)
(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
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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
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Slang definitions & phrases for hokey-pokey



: It might sound weird or hokey pokey, but it works


: candy bars on the hokey-pokey counter


  1. Cheap ice cream and sweets made primarily to attract children (1884+)
  2. False and meretricious material; deception; hokum: too much of ''Hollywood hokey-pokey'' (1840s+)

[fr an earlier sense of hokey-pokey, ''cheat, swindle,'' ultimately fr hocus-pocus; the ice cream is said to have been named in Italian, O, che poco, a child's cry at the paucity of the portion]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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