Definition of wonk in English:



  • 1North American derogatory, informal A studious or hard-working person.

    ‘any kid with an interest in science was a wonk’
    • ‘Some scenes seem intended to solicit knowing nods from diehard Juche wonks in the audience, who will get a kick out of seeing the origin story of the ‘Women's Association.’’
    • ‘On the most politically charged issues, like crime and welfare reform, hacks thought wonks were from Pluto and wonks thought hacks were from Uranus.’
    • ‘Moreover, there is no shortage of little wonks willing to work at conservative think tanks, even though these jobs are not well remunerated.’
    • ‘It's a book for design wonks and it discusses how much of the stuff we have to interact with in our daily lives is terribly designed, made for form not function, and not even much form at that.’
    • ‘It hasn't helped that our leaders are mostly literal-minded wonks.’
    • ‘But that's deep in the weeds where few non-policy wonks venture.’
    • ‘The second half of this piece is an analysis of particular cases, but even those who are not legal wonks might enjoy the first part.’
    • ‘At any rate, he concludes that futile exercises in sonic definition are not in his job description; they are the provenance of journalists, publicists, managers, and other music industry wonks.’
    • ‘There are plenty of moderates, of course, but they tend to be technocrats and wonks.’
    • ‘All the Valley guys put suits on to impress the wonks, and all the wonks would put khakis and knit shirts on to fit in with the Valley.’
    • ‘Anyone who's genuinely confused as to how a pro-Social Security administration might make the numbers add up can look at any number of plans liberal wonks have put together.’
    • ‘Only a small group of wonks is sufficiently familiar with the budget to recognize the significance of this level of spending.’
    • ‘If you think you can work out a containment system where all the defense wonks have failed, have at it.’
    • ‘Perhaps the health wonks among us can mull this problem over, while I ponder what it means when two of our nation's largest industries (health and defense) can essentially manufacture demand out of thin air.’
    • ‘Wilco upped the ante by streaming the full disc on their website, banking that, contrary to industry wonks who decry the negative sales effects of pirating, early exposure would increase interest and sales.’
    • ‘All the advertising wonks employed by the wine industry couldn't have come up with a superior marketing device.’
    • ‘And rows of budding science wonks scratch their heads, look at each other, and wonder: Is that possible?’
    • ‘One of the reasons, however, not often cited by human resources wonks, is that home-grown talent is expensive, and the global network economy has made it feasible to move a lot of software development offshore to nations like India.’
    • ‘In fact, I haven't heard anyone argue that outside of a few wingnut wonks since the Reagan administration.’
    • ‘He finishes off with a wonk's analysis of sustainable firewood projections for the next 60 years.’
    hard worker, toiler, workhorse, stakhanovite, galley slave
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    1. 1.1 A person who takes an excessive interest in minor details of political policy.
      ‘he is a policy wonk in tune with a younger generation of voters’
      • ‘Their work is what it aspires to be - the policy wonk's guide to Kosovo.’
      • ‘To say he likes the book is something of an understatement: ‘Confessions of a policy wonk.’’
      • ‘Leicester inhabits the world of the policy wonk, the person who provides the meat of politics, while staying out of the soap opera of characters which dominate the way politics is often perceived through the media.’
      • ‘The book is a policy wonk's dream, and there's enough here to make you pull out your hair over the amount of graft and outright cheating going on in the open.’
      • ‘A wonk, a policy wonk, a detail - oriented person and that is what you need in office, especially for a situation like this.’
      • ‘The foreign policy wonk was either bored or uncertain whether Lieberman knew what he was talking about.’
      • ‘As the brainchild of a Columbian attorney, a German scientist, and an American policy wonk, the project has a pretty interesting background.’
      • ‘Cooper's constant references to research show that, like her husband and his boss, she is a policy wonk obsessed with the minutiae of people's lives.’
      • ‘‘I try my best to suppress my policy wonk instincts, but I don't always succeed,’ he admits, with a knowing laugh at the stereotype he so ably fills.’
      • ‘‘The worst thing a candidate can do is go into the Valley and be a policy wonk,’ warned Dyer.’
      • ‘Policy wonks - like all politically oriented people - are encouraged to think in terms of combative point-making.’
      • ‘It is a policy wonk's beach reading, full of participation rates, reciprocities and tax credits.’
      • ‘If he is a political animal, he has to become a policy wonk.’
      • ‘For much of the 1990s I worked closely with New Labour as a policy wonk.’
      • ‘I mean, she makes fun of him for being a policy wonk.’
      • ‘For a self-confessed policy wonk, these memoirs contain surprisingly little discussion of political ideas.’
      • ‘If Rodney Hide wins the ACT leadership, as I personally think will happen, then Sir Roger's influence as a policy wonk and powerbroker is essentially at an end.’
      • ‘In other words, my ideal foreign policy is one that's forged in the grand strategy debates on the right, but implemented by the policy wonk mandarins on the left.’
      • ‘A good literary critic is not a political ideologue or policy wonk.’
      • ‘And we may be talking, in a policy wonk way, about what New Jersey is doing, other than, if you will, criminal convictions of its politicians.’
  • 2nautical slang An incompetent or inexperienced sailor, especially a naval cadet.


1920s: of unknown origin.