Definition of hanky-panky in English:



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

    ‘there's no hanky-panky involved, no dating of customers’
    ‘suspicions of financial hanky-panky’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘You and Dustin can bring sleeping bags in there as long as there's no hanky-panky.’
    • ‘I was very stern - no hanky-panky and no unnecessary smiling which could be misconstrued.’
    • ‘How come the same people who call same-sex marriage immoral are so often up to their necks in heterosexual hanky-panky?’
    • ‘Still, any hanky-panky would have been a lousy move.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘No one is suggesting, nor should they, that this is proof there's any financial hanky-panky going on.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘His unworldliness - despite all he has seen and heard - is the perfect contrast to the high-minded hanky-panky of the inner circle.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And a police raid on a massage parlor specializing in hanky-panky sends shockwaves through a Texas town.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As long as there is no hanky-panky they can do whatever they like.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘My first thought on the notion of civilian use is the potential for financial hanky-panky.’
    goings-on, funny business, mischief, misbehaviour, misconduct, chicanery, dishonesty, deception, deceit, trickery, intrigue, skulduggery, subterfuge, machinations
    extramarital sex, infidelity, unfaithfulness, adultery, liaison, affair, fling
    monkey business, shenanigans, carryings-on, carry-on, fooling around, playing around
    jiggery-pokery, monkey tricks
    View synonyms


Mid 19th century: perhaps an alteration of hokey-pokey.