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[wongk] /wɒŋk/
noun, Slang.
a student who spends much time studying and has little or no social life; grind.
a stupid, boring, or unattractive person.
a person who studies a subject or issue in an excessively assiduous and thorough manner:
a policy wonk.
Origin of wonk
1960-65, Americanism; of expressive orig.; nautical slang wonk “a midshipman,” Australian slang: “white person, homosexual” are probably independent formations
Related forms
wonkish, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for wonkish


(informal) a person who is obsessively interested in a specified subject: a foreign policy wonk
Word Origin
C20: of uncertain origin
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
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Word Origin and History for wonkish



"overly studious person," 1954, American English student slang, popularized 1993 during Clinton administration in U.S.; perhaps a shortening of British slang wonky "shaky, unreliable." Or perhaps a variant of British slang wanker "masturbator." It was earlier British naval slang for "midshipman" (1929).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for wonkish



Redolent of policy, theory, discussion, etc: Greenberg felt that a wonkish tone had pervaded the transition (1990s+)



  1. An overstudious student; an intellectual; Greasy Grind: I had a real wonk of a roommate. The guy drove me bats/ Along come these wonks with slide rules sewn into their sports jackets
  2. A flunky; a stupid person

[1990s+ College students; origin unknown; perhaps fr British wanker, ''masturbator''; in British sailor slang, wonk meant ''midshipman''; the term became suddenly common in the phrase policy wonk during the first year of the Clinton administration, 1993]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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