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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
Judge Mehta will consider legal questions that are both wonky and technical. Trisha Thadani, Washington Post, 21 Sep. 2023 The novel’s vitality comes from Alex’s voice, with its buoyancy and confidence, its slightly jangly English and wonky figures of speech. Sara Holdren, Vulture, 10 Sep. 2023 The Assembly is expected to pass the bill, perhaps Wednesday or Thursday, and Lombardo will sign it, and only the wonkiest civic potholes could derail the A’s then. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 14 June 2023 So wonky was Barnes’ play that offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig finally opted to go to backup Nate Johnson in the fourth quarter. Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, 9 Sep. 2023 The Christmas metaphor is admittedly wonky, but come on. Li Goldstein, Bon Appétit, 31 Aug. 2023 Oppenheimer is one of those shoot-for-the-moon projects that feels thrilling and wonky, brilliant and overstuffed, too much and yet not enough. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 19 July 2023 During the boom times, Paris Hilton, Snoop Dogg, Reese Witherspoon, and Matt Damon all gushed about or invested in crypto projects, bringing a mainstream audience to the wonky world of digital currencies. Erin Griffith and David Yaffe-Bellany, BostonGlobe.com, 6 July 2023 Understandably, questions about the finer details of administrative process or regulatory design are simply too wonky and technical to register among our more pressing concerns. James Goodwin, The New Republic, 30 Aug. 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 4 Oct. 2023.

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