Definition of shonky in English:



NZ, Australian
  • Dishonest, unreliable, or illegal, especially in a devious way.

    ‘shonky political goings-on’
    • ‘Rather than concentrating on shonky design, the legislation puts in place an inspection regime.’
    • ‘I am really surprised that a New Zealand political party should advocate shonky protectionism against our trading partners.’
    • ‘Building workers have uncovered shonky immigration scams involving the employment and exploitation of illegal immigrants in the industry.’
    • ‘Well it's not a new technology or some great discount deal for satellite Net access or shonky scam.’
    • ‘The flat came part-furnished - and part-finished too - sloping walls and ceilings, shonky partition walls thrown up.’
    • ‘I've been twice and had shonky service, terrible food and eye-watering bills.’
    • ‘As I say, it is constitutionally very shonky and very dodgy.’
    • ‘So why is there nothing protecting us from people who deal with shonky affairs of the mind?’
    • ‘First and foremost, does this guy have some shonky connections?’
    deceitful, underhanded, dishonest, dishonourable, disreputable, unethical, unprincipled, immoral, unscrupulous, fraudulent, cheating, dubious, dirty, unfair, treacherous, duplicitous, double-dealing, below the belt, two-timing, two-faced, janus-faced, unsporting, unsportsmanlike
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NZ, Australian
  • A person engaged in suspect business activities.

    ‘we need to rid the building industry of these shonkies quickly’
    • ‘There's a powerful message to middle class shonkies that it's not only street crime that may merit prison.’
    • ‘I am very concerned that this spate of accidents will continue unless state and local Government and the public at large report and police the shonks who are putting peoples lives at risk.’
    • ‘The philosophy behind it is to drive shonks out of local government, particularly in an environment were the contracting out of services is increasing.’
    • ‘Fortunately most of them are gone, the shonks have gone out of the industry and it's basically left to the farmers and the people doing the right thing to get the products out there.’
    • ‘These people do not want to be seen as being mixed up with shonks.’
    • ‘‘The practice is not only leaving workers out of pocket, it is penalising companies that do make proper provision for entitlements and have to compete with the shonks,’ he says.’
    • ‘These shonks, often fly-by-night backyard operators, take full advantage of recent arrivals and just don't comply with minimum Award standards.’


1970s: perhaps from English dialect shonk ‘smart’.