It’s another one of those words. A funny sounding word that really doesn’t give us a clue on the meaning of the word — hunky — what is a hunky? Actually, the dictionary defines “hunky” as “a large, strong, and sexually attractive male”. Hey, I’m a red-blooded American girl and I know what that is, but I thought they were called “Hunks”. Should I go around from now on saying, “Well, he’s such a hunky.” Then, there is “dory” — what in the world does dory mean? According to the dictionary, it is a flat bottomed boat with flaring sides, or a narrow fish with a mouth that can be opened very wide. So, hunky-dory could mean a large, strong and sexually attractive male that is a fish which has a mouth that opens wide. Maybe there is a fish that fits this description but the word just doesn’t make sense, does it?
It’s so simple — hunky-dory means everything’s fine, okay.
So, how did we get from a large, strong and sexually attractive male that is a fish with a mouth that opens wide to everything is just fine?
I did a bit of research on this and I found two origins, so I will start with the earliest — 1853. That is when Commodore Matthew Perry sailed into Japan, which eventually led to ending 250 years of isolation of Japan from the West. Now, the sailors, those hunks, really needed some r&r so they went into what would become known as Tokyo for some entertainment. The streets were a maze, but once they found the main street, Honcho Dori, they knew it would take them to the port and everything would be fine. (The image at the left is Perry’s fleet for his second visit to Japan in 1854, courtesy of Wikipedia.org, drawn around 1854, soPD).
That’s the first reference to this funny word. Now, give it a few years and you start hearing hunky-dory on the streets, and then it is in a song, Essence of Old Kentucky by George Christy and the Christy Minstrels sing “…with your smiling faces around, ’tis then I’m hunky dorey”. The year is 1862.
The quirky word stuck, and in 1971, there was a musician named David Bowie who was getting his feet wet in the music industry. That was when he recorded the Hunky Dory album, an album that was a catalyst to a career that spanned his life until his death in 2016. Also, the Hunky Dory album was the first time we heard his Changes, you remember — “Oh yeah…Still don’t know what I was waitin’ for And my time was runnin’ wild…ch-ch-ch-ch-changes Turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes.” It still runs through my head. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes….
And that is how those changes evolved with hunky dory — and for me, there is nothing finer than window shopping for a hunk. That is hunky dory to me…
Have a great one…