Meaning of hokey-pokey in English:


Pronunciation /həʊkɪˈpəʊki/


  • 1 Trademark mass noun Ice cream of a kind formerly sold on the street, especially by Italian street vendors.

    ‘she got me a double cone of hokey-pokey’
    • ‘Interestingly, in late - 19 th-century Britain, hokey-pokey men were Italian street vendors selling ice-cream wrapped in waxed paper.’
    • ‘They sell hokey-pokey, either plain or covered in chocolate.’
    1. 1.1 trademark in UK A kind of brittle toffee or honeycomb.
      ‘for those with a sweet tooth, what about hokey-pokey?’
      • ‘In some areas this would solidify and subsequently be mined as pig treacle, or hokey-pokey, great sticky seams in the rock, but your real prospector would surely comb the wilderness for signs of the true liquid gold.’
      • ‘Hokey pokey ice cream is one of the most popular treats in New Zealand, evoking memories of childhood trips to the beach.’
      • ‘My friend made hokey pokey ice cream for a lunch party.’
  • 2US informal Deception; trickery.

    • ‘There was something kind of psychic about him, almost supernatural, and it was no surprise when I found out he was into that hokey-pokey and read a lot about magic and mysticism.’
  • 3the hokey-pokeyUS A group dance performed in a circle with a synchronized shaking of the limbs in turn, accompanied by a simple song.

    British term hokey-cokey

    ‘I'm the typical American white guy, so watching me dance is like seeing the Pillsbury Doughboy doing the hokey-pokey.’
    • ‘We learn the hokey pokey when we're kids and as we become adults, we learn the latest crazes.’
    • ‘Try dancing with your children. Do the Hokey Pokey, the bunny hop and such.’
    • ‘It's the only hospital with a built-in bar, but surely having some kind of entertainment that doesn't involve game shows and the weekly hokey-pokey is a good idea whose time has come.’
    • ‘And then Zeek looked at me with his lovely lagoon eyes, and just as I was about to accept, I remembered that the only dance I could dance was the hokey-pokey.’


Late 19th century (in sense ‘deception, trickery’): perhaps from hocus-pocus.