Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

“Hunky-dory”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on October 13, 2014

 

I’ve come across this term occasionally, and wondered about its origin. It turns up, among other places, in the song “The Fall of Charleston,” in the lines,

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With Sherman, Grant and Porter too, to lead our men to glory,
We’ll squash poor Jeff’s confederacy, and then get “Hunkydory!”

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Sounds like it means happily drunk.

Well, I finally found a near-contemporary source. New York Commercial Advertiser, August 5, 1870, p. 2:

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The boys who use the slang expression “hunky-dory” suppose they are describing something super-excellent. Not so. The word is Scotch, and is a synonym for the Latin non compos. He is “unco dour in the uptak,” is the full expression, and means half-witted.​

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So it means stupid drunk. Close enough, y’all.

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Image from “The Five Stages of Being Drunk in the 1860s.”

 

GeneralStarsGray

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3 Responses

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  1. msb said, on October 14, 2014 at 1:53 am

    Another line in “The Fall of Charleston” is: “A hunky boy is General Sherman”. So are they saying he was drunk when he took Charleston?

  2. C. Meyer said, on October 15, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    I thought it might be found in the Rogue’s Lexicon, but to no avail.

    https://archive.org/details/cu31924073798740


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