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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


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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
The timeline can be a little wonky though, per Dr. Pierre. Julia Sullivan, SELF, 6 May 2024 Grocery store carts are more likely to have carts with wonky wheels than other types of retailers, like clothing stores or drugstores, where the carts don’t leave the store as much; merchandifse is typically carried out in a bag or two. Eva Rothenberg, CNN, 17 Feb. 2024 The government doesn’t measure housing ‘value’ the way people do Okay, bear with us here: This is a bit wonky. Irina Ivanova, Fortune, 3 Feb. 2024 So that’s the wonky parts under the hood that most people don’t think about anymore. Nilay Patel, The Verge, 25 Mar. 2024 Netflix’s business model had always seemed wonky, so much so that many players, not just HBO president and CEO Jeff Bewkes, expected the company to collapse under its own weight. Peter Biskind, Fortune, 26 Dec. 2023 If this seems like wonky stuff for a 100-minute play, that is an appropriate view. David John Chávez, The Mercury News, 13 Mar. 2024 The subject is full of dense and wonky material that gets litigated through binder-thick planning reports instead of sound bites. Conor Dougherty, New York Times, 9 Mar. 2024 Allen starred in Last Man Standing, which was originally developed for ABC and aired six of its nine seasons on the network before moving to Fox as part of a wonky ownership move. Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 6 Mar. 2024

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 18 May. 2024.

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