Definition of hanky-panky in English:



humorous, informal
  • Behavior, in particular sexual or legally dubious behavior, considered improper but not seriously so.

    ‘suspicions of financial hanky-panky’
    ‘there's no hanky-panky involved, no dating of customers’
    • ‘How come the same people who call same-sex marriage immoral are so often up to their necks in heterosexual hanky-panky?’
    • ‘You and Dustin can bring sleeping bags in there as long as there's no hanky-panky.’
    • ‘I mean, it's no more esoteric or unusual than what anyone else does, but people don't get their knickers in a twist about Mr and Mrs Jones' hanky-panky.’
    • ‘Which only goes to show that there's nothing better than a bit of sexual hanky-panky to divert the public from more serious matters.’
    • ‘As long as there is no hanky-panky they can do whatever they like.’
    • ‘My first thought on the notion of civilian use is the potential for financial hanky-panky.’
    • ‘Still, any hanky-panky would have been a lousy move.’
    • ‘His unworldliness - despite all he has seen and heard - is the perfect contrast to the high-minded hanky-panky of the inner circle.’
    • ‘I was very stern - no hanky-panky and no unnecessary smiling which could be misconstrued.’
    • ‘He slapped the topless Mecca for celebrities and high rollers with a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court, claiming hanky-panky - of the financial sort - was behind his gargantuan tab.’
    • ‘Equally, using the forces of the law to spend time and money chasing after some folk who went into Croker for a bit of hanky-panky doesn't contribute anything to credibility and trust in the law.’
    • ‘‘There's a lot of hanky-panky going on among species that we believed were socially monogamous,’ says Emlen, whose work was funded by the National Science Foundation.’
    • ‘Before the writs and the fists fly let me point out that there's no hanky-panky, rumpy-pumpy or anything of the sort involved.’
    • ‘Catching the spirit of the movie, we want to believe that you and the young cast indulged in all sorts of fantastic sexual hanky-panky.’
    • ‘A CBS movie revisits Enron, with all its chicanery, flimflam, excess, hanky-panky, and its descent into the dark, if darkly comic, side of capitalism.’
    • ‘Initially, there was a bit of communal, free-love hanky-panky among the Children of God, but by the time the three Jynxters-to-be came on the scene, that had long passed.’
    • ‘This book expands the definition to include fraud, financial hanky-panky and the psychological or spiritual abuse of those who turn to the clergy for help.’
    • ‘After learning of the client's sad state of affairs, we launch into the meat of the show, where the cavalcade of aforementioned investigators track the suspect and run recon to see if there is indeed some illicit hanky-panky going on.’
    • ‘And a police raid on a massage parlor specializing in hanky-panky sends shockwaves through a Texas town.’
    • ‘No one is suggesting, nor should they, that this is proof there's any financial hanky-panky going on.’
    goings-on, funny business, mischief, misbehaviour, misconduct, chicanery, dishonesty, deception, deceit, trickery, intrigue, skulduggery, subterfuge, machinations
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Mid 19th century: perhaps an alteration of hokey-pokey.