honky-tonk

[ hong-kee-tongk, hawng-kee-tawngk ]
/ ˈhɒŋ kiˌtɒŋk, ˈhɔŋ kiˌtɔŋk /

noun

a cheap, noisy, and garish nightclub or dance hall.

adjective

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.

verb (used without object)

to visit or frequent honky-tonks.

Nearby words

  1. honiton,
  2. honk,
  3. honker,
  4. honkey,
  5. honky,
  6. honolulu,
  7. honor,
  8. honor bound,
  9. honor bright,
  10. honor camp

Origin of honky-tonk

1890–95, Americanism; rhyming compound based on honk

Related formshonk·y-tonk·er, noun

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


British Dictionary definitions for honky-tonk

honky-tonk

/ (ˈhɒŋkɪˌtɒŋk) /

noun

US and Canadian slang
  1. a cheap disreputable nightclub, bar, etc
  2. (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

Word Origin for honky-tonk

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

honky-tonk

n.

"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