"hokey cokey"

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Thu Jan 31 03:45:45 UTC 2013

The latest installment of Michael Quinion's fine newsletter has the

On Wednesday, the *Daily Mail* described David Cameron’s much-delayed
speech on Europe that day as an “historic ultimatum”. He proposed that
Britain’s membership of the European Union should be renegotiated, to be
followed by what he called an “in-out referendum” on whether the country
should stay or leave. Wits immediately dubbed it the *hokey-cokey referendum
* (Americans will prefer *hokey-pokey*), with one headline reading “In-out,
that’s not what it’s all about”.

The application of the "hokey-cokey" dance to Cameron’s proposal makes
sense.  But I still don't understand what the guy who applied "hokey-cokey"
to the Olympic stadium plans had in mind.   Maybe just "childish"?


On Sat, Jan 26, 2013 at 6:09 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:

> At 1/26/2013 01:37 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> I expect "hocus-pocus" (for the meaning) and/or "hokey-pokey" (for
>> the sound) might be involved, although I have no speculation for the
>> /p/ > /k/ part of it.  Maybe assimilation from the /k/ of the second
>> syllable(s)?  Hic-haec-hoc > Hic-haec-coke?
> I too think of "hocus-pocus" rather than cocaine.  But also, doesn't
> "hockey puck" have an association with shit, and particularly
> bullshit?  (Researching this would overwhelm me, but I find early on
> "The first Hockey puck ever used was a frozen piece of cow
> poop.")  So "hokey cokey" as "fakery, delusion" might have arisen
> from a combining and alteration of "hocus-pocus" and "hockey puck"?
> Joel
> P.S.  Following on from POTUS and FLOTUS, are there also HOCUS and POCUS?
> ------------------------------**------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much since then.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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