\ˈwäŋk, ˈwȯŋk \

Definition of wonk 

: a person preoccupied with arcane details or procedures in a specialized field broadly : nerd a policy wonk a computer wonk

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Other Words from wonk

wonkery \ ˈwäŋ-​kə-​rē \ noun
wonkish \ ˈwäŋ-​kish \ adjective
wonkishness noun

Examples of wonk in a Sentence

the policy wonks in the government the candidate has an army of policy wonks ready to write for him a position paper on virtually any issue

Recent Examples on the Web

Even policy wonks like MSNBC’s star host Rachel Maddow, who’s known for her deep dives into the thrilling details of things such as infrastructure and Watergate-era legal procedure, was left without words by the end of her show Tuesday. Lorraine Ali, latimes.com, "How TV sounds and images of migrant children overrode the pundits and changed the immigration debate," 21 June 2018 On the campaign trail, Vignarajah, 38, displays a natural charisma befitting a seasoned politician and a policy wonk’s command of detail. Erin Cox, baltimoresun.com, "Democrat Krish Vignarajah says it's time for a woman to be Maryland's governor," 23 May 2018 Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Mr. Rubin’s standing among policy wonks stems largely from his time in government. Telis Demos, WSJ, "Robert Rubin’s Legacy Up for Debate 10 Years After Citigroup Bailout," 8 June 2018 Trump’s personal grudge fused with the ideological commitments of Republican policy wonks and lawmakers who were loath to spend money on a public project, especially in Democratic states. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Why Trump will never be an infrastructure president.," 6 July 2018 Andrew Wheeler, on the other hand, is a policy wonk who keeps his religious views private and collects Coca-Cola memorabilia. Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, "Shift at EPA shows technocrats are replacing big-personality Cabinet members," 6 July 2018 Liddell doesn’t pretend to be a wonk, however: his specialty is managing the policy work of others. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Maybe Republicans Just Don’t Do Policy," 3 July 2018 For years policy wonks have worried about rising disability rolls. The Economist, "Worker shortages could heal America’s economy," 12 July 2018 Cesar Conda, a former Hill aide and ally of Ryan's, said that he's watched him evolve over the years from staffer to speaker, gaining momentum and skills that the policy wonk didn't possess in the earlier days. Deirdre Walsh, CNN, "Paul Ryan's impact: Big tax bill but no entitlement reforms," 12 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wonk.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of wonk

1954, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for wonk

origin unknown

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Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for wonk

The first known use of wonk was in 1954

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English Language Learners Definition of wonk

: a person who knows a lot about the details of a particular field (such as politics) and often talks a lot about that subject

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Comments on wonk

What made you want to look up wonk? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express warning or disapproval

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