In the Loop

In the Loop: May 31, 2007 Archive

People say the darndest things

Posted at 2:45 PM on May 31, 2007 by Sanden Totten

You ever stop to think about the sayings you use?

Today when a colleague asked me how I was, I replied: "hunky dory". She stopped, and said, "that's good . . . right?"

Then I too realized I didn't actually know what hunky dory meant. In fact the only real definition I could think of was that Hunky Dorey was the name of the David Bowie album featuring the song Changes. I know that's a good album, but I'm pretty sure that's not where the saying came from. I admit, most people don't use the phrase "hunky dory" that often. But there are a lot of strange phrases we use all the time, many of them make no sense literally.

The whole nine yards.

A chip on the shoulder.

The spitting image.

The list goes on. Luckily, the Internet has some ideas about what these phrases mean. Some of them have really bizarre theories behind them. Some are shrouded in mystery. A lot of them come from the mouths of sailors!

And as for Hunky Dory, there are two theories. Some say it comes from the Japanese street "Honcho-dori" in Yokohama, a popular spot in the 19th century for US sailors on leave in Japan. The other big theory has to do with "hunky" being an old slang term for getting a goal or being safe at home in sports.

What weird sayings do you wonder about?

May 2007
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