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’
    • ‘And rows of budding science wonks scratch their heads, look at each other, and wonder: Is that possible?’
    • ‘Only a small group of wonks is sufficiently familiar with the budget to recognize the significance of this level of spending.’
    • ‘There are plenty of moderates, of course, but they tend to be technocrats and wonks.’
    • ‘He finishes off with a wonk's analysis of sustainable firewood projections for the next 60 years.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But that's deep in the weeds where few non-policy wonks venture.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘If you think you can work out a containment system where all the defense wonks have failed, have at it.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In fact, I haven't heard anyone argue that outside of a few wingnut wonks since the Reagan administration.’
    • ‘It hasn't helped that our leaders are mostly literal-minded wonks.’
    • ‘All the advertising wonks employed by the wine industry couldn't have come up with a superior marketing device.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Moreover, there is no shortage of little wonks willing to work at conservative think tanks, even though these jobs are not well remunerated.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is a policy wonk's beach reading, full of participation rates, reciprocities and tax credits.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Their work is what it aspires to be - the policy wonk's guide to Kosovo.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For much of the 1990s I worked closely with New Labour as a policy wonk.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If he is a political animal, he has to become a policy wonk.’
      • ‘‘The worst thing a candidate can do is go into the Valley and be a policy wonk,’ warned Dyer.’
      • ‘I mean, she makes fun of him for being a policy wonk.’
      • ‘A wonk, a policy wonk, a detail - oriented person and that is what you need in office, especially for a situation like this.’
      • ‘Policy wonks - like all politically oriented people - are encouraged to think in terms of combative point-making.’
      • ‘To say he likes the book is something of an understatement: ‘Confessions of a policy wonk.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For a self-confessed policy wonk, these memoirs contain surprisingly little discussion of political ideas.’
  • 2nautical slang An incompetent or inexperienced sailor, especially a naval cadet.


1920s: of unknown origin.