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Etymology 1[edit]

From English dialectal wanky, alteration of Middle English wankel (unstable, shaky), from Old English wancol (unstable), from Proto-West Germanic *wankul (swaying, shaky, unstable).


wonky (comparative wonkier, superlative wonkiest)

  1. Lopsided, misaligned or off-centre.
    Synonyms: awry, misaligned, skew-whiff
    • 2016 April 2, “Afghan Business (Afghan Dan Send)”, performed by Dylan Brewer and Little T (Josh Tate):
      Who's this gimp with a wonky eye / I don't know but his lips are dry
  2. (chiefly Britain, Australia, New Zealand) Feeble, shaky or rickety.
    Synonym: rickety
    • 1932, Frank Richards, The Magnet: The Terror of the Form:
      It seemed likely that he would need First Aid when those wonky steps yielded, at length, to the well-known law of gravitation.
  3. (informal, computing, especially Usenet) Suffering from intermittent bugs.
    Synonyms: buggy, broken
  4. (informal) Generally incorrect.
Derived terms[edit]


wonky (uncountable)

  1. (music) A subgenre of electronic music employing unstable rhythms, complex time signatures, and mid-range synths.
    • 2015, Jan Kyrre Berg O. Friis, Robert P. Crease, Technoscience and Postphenomenology: The Manhattan Papers:
      By the late 2000s, dubstep had splintered into numerous factions, from brostep to wonky to the evocative “purple,” []

Etymology 2[edit]

wonk +‎ -y


wonky (comparative wonkier, superlative wonkiest)

  1. Technically worded, in the style of jargon.
    • 2009, Jesse Dale Holcomb, Faith, Science and Trust: Climate Change Framing Effects and Conservative Protestant Opinion[1], archived from the original on 7 March 2016:
      Climate change is an issue that might lend itself more easily to thematic framing in the news, due to the often highly technical and wonky language required to explain it.
    • 2010, Michael Maslansky, Scott West, Gary DeMoss, David Saylor, The Language of Trust: Selling Ideas in a World of Skeptics[2]:
      McCain's message, while similar in content and equally as valid, is lost in the minutiae of “'high-risk' pools” and wonky jargon.
    • 2023 July 6, Erin Griffith, David Yaffe-Bellany, “How Tom Brady’s Crypto Ambitions Collided With Reality”, in The New York Times[3], →ISSN:
      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.