Hanky-Panky

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Have you ever engaged in a little bit of hanky panky? Then shame on you!

But this is a rather strange phrase, so what is the origin of hanky panky then... surely it is hard to trace, perhaps even untraceable, and just one of those strange things. Well... actually... that's not the case.

The origin seems to be the extremely popular magic shows of around one to two hundred years ago. Said magician would perform his veritable legerdemain by waving a hanky in one hand to distract people from what he did with the other hand secretly. This prestidigitation and the fact that the hanky concealed something illicit going on led to the origin of the phrase hanky panky, with the panky bit presumably being added because, well, it rhymed with 'hanky'.

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