[quote=“Ironman”]Hunky Dory for the street when it was considered safe for sailors in Hong Kong.
“Everything is Hunky Dory”[/quote]
Popular legend has it that it derives from the name of a street in Edo (Tokyo), Japan where there were bazaars and other entertainments for sailors. The term appears in American slang in 1866, shortly after Commodore Perry’s trip to Japan. This legend was plugged by Bartlett’s in 1877, but other than the date there is little evidence to support it.
Hunky meaning fine or splendid dates to 1861. The adjective hunk meaning safe or secure is even older, dating to the early 1840s. Given these earlier usages predate Perry’s opening of Japan, it is unlikely the word derives from a Japanese source. In short, it’s another one of those that we must mark “origin unknown.”[/quote]
[quote]From William and Mary Morris’s Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins: The story goes that the principal street of Yokohama was Huncho-dori street. (OK, Danny, is that true today?) A sailor on shore leave would feel that everything was OK when he was on the main street.
Another story however (attributed by the Morrises to Charles Earle Funk) traces the origin back to the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam: taking the word hunk as derived from the Dutch word honk for goal. When you reached the goal, everything was hunky-dory. How the dory got into the expression was not clear.
We do know that Christy’s Minstrels of the mid-nineteenth century popularized a bit of corn called “Josiphus Orange Blossom” that contained the lyric “red hot hunky-dory contraband.” The song was a hit and hunky-dory came into the language.
That song arose during the Civil War. Since Japan was not opened to foreign ships until Commodore Perry’s visit in 1854, it seems somewhat doubtful that the Yokohama theory holds water. More likely, hunky-dory was already a slang term when American sailors first had shore leave to Huncho-dori Street.[/quote]
[quote]The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang suggests that the term may have been introduced in America about 1865 by a popular variety performer named Japanese Tommy. Other references suggest that it may have been sailors’ slang for a street in Yokohama that catered for what one might describe as the special needs of sailors. In Yokohama today a broad thoroughfare called Honcho-dori runs from the centre of the city to the port area, so one that would have been familiar to sailors (dori is the Japanese word for a road, in particular a broad or important one).
What seems certain is that hunky-dory was a play on an existing sense of the word hunky for something that was fine, splendid or satisfactory. In turn, this probably derives from the adjective hunk, which means that one is all right or in a safe or good position. This derives from the Dutch honk, meaning “goal” or “home” in a Frisian variant of the game of tag. This word (and presumably the game, too) was said to have been taken by the Dutch to New Amsterdam, later New York, but was first recorded only around the 1840s. It has links to another reduplicated term, hunkum-bunkum. Though the first part sounds a bit like the hunker of hunker down (which is also of Dutch origin), the words seem not to be related.
It may be that hunky-dory was the result of a bilingual pun, perhaps invented because American sailors knew the word dori and prefixed it with hunky as an imagined Japanese street of earthly delights.[/quote]
So it sounds like the source was Japanese (if Asian at all). Not Chinese…