1 of 2

adjective (1)

ˈwäŋ-kē How to pronounce wonky (audio)
wonkier; wonkiest
: characteristic of, relating to, or suggestive of a wonk: such as
: preoccupied with arcane details or procedures in a specialized field
She can get wonky about the economy when she wants to, but what sets her apart is her ability to tell a coherent, populist story about it in a way that other members of her party are either unwilling or unable to do.Rebecca Traister
: used by or appealing to wonks
… one of those politicians who actually find pleasure in the often-wonky details of public policy.John Powers
wonkiness noun


2 of 2

adjective (2)

won·​ky ˈwäŋ-kē How to pronounce wonky (audio)
wonkier; wonkiest
British : unsteady, shaky
chiefly British : awry, wrong

Examples of wonky in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Other scenes, like ones of a faux-jungle landscape replete with potted tropical plants, shared the kind of wonky perceptual gimcrackery that marked many of his other pictures. Chris Wiley, The New Yorker, 8 Feb. 2024 Cheesy fonts, wonky formatting, basic printer paper, a slightly messier look: Some menus look as if they were created by a design-school freshman. Priya Krishna, New York Times, 23 Jan. 2024 Behind both surges in mortgage borrowing is the crucial but wonky explanation of monetary policy: both eras saw high inflation, huge hikes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, and a housing industry taking it on the chin. Alena Botros, Fortune, 8 Jan. 2024 Unlike other classic donut travel pillows, this one has an adjustable clasp for chin support and straps that attach to an airplane seat, to help keep your head in place (translation: no uncomfortable slouching or waking up in a wonky position). Kristine Thomason, Travel + Leisure, 20 Dec. 2023 Johnson is the latest celebrity to get a wonky wax figure of themselves. Alexandra Del Rosario, Los Angeles Times, 23 Oct. 2023 Lemon Juice: Aside from our perennial recommendation to use fresh juice, the only thing to note here is that the measurements are a touch wonky. Jason O'Bryan, Robb Report, 22 Aug. 2023 Amabel did not invent the wonky genre of game-as-argument. Matthew Hutson, The New Yorker, 21 Dec. 2023 Curmudgeonly teacher with a wonky eye has to take care of students at a prep school over Christmas break and has a special relationship with one of them. Bilge Ebiri, Vulture, 8 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'wonky.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Adjective (2)

probably alteration of English dialect wankle, from Middle English wankel, from Old English wancol; akin to Old High German wankōn to totter — more at wench

First Known Use

Adjective (1)

1978, in the meaning defined above

Adjective (2)

1918, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of wonky was in 1918

Dictionary Entries Near wonky

Cite this Entry

“Wonky.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wonky. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on wonky

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!