- a cheap, noisy, and garish nightclub or dance hall.
- Also honk·y-tonk·y [hong-kee-tong-kee, hawng-kee-tawng-] /ˈhɒŋ kiˌtɒŋ ki, ˈhɔŋ kiˌtɔŋ-/. of, relating to, or characteristic of a honky-tonk: a honky-tonk atmosphere.
- characterized by or having a large number of honky-tonks: the honky-tonk part of town.
- Music. noting a style of ragtime piano-playing characterized by a strict two-four or four-four bass, either contrapuntal or chordal, and a melody embellished with chords and syncopated rhythms, typically performed on a piano whose strings have been muffled and given a tinny sound.
- to visit or frequent honky-tonks.
Origin of honky-tonk
1890–95, Americanism; rhyming compound based on honk
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- US and Canadian slang
- a cheap disreputable nightclub, bar, etc
- (as modifier)a honky-tonk district
- a style of ragtime piano-playing, esp on a tinny-sounding piano
- a type of country music, usually performed by a small band with electric and steel guitars
- (as modifier)honky-tonk music
C19: rhyming compound based on honk
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for honky-tonk
"cheap night club," by 1898, Southern U.S., of unknown origin. As a type of music played in that sort of low saloon, it is attested from 1921.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper