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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-Germanic *wankulaz (swaying, shaky, unstable), from Proto-Germanic *wankōną (to sway, be unsteady), from Proto-Indo-European *wa(n)k-, *wek-, *wag-, *weg- (to swing, be unsteady, slant, be crooked). Cognate with Scots wankle (wonky), Dutch wankel (shaky), German Wankelmut (fickleness, inconstancy, vacillation), Danish vanke (to wander). See also wankle.



wonky (comparative wonkier, superlative wonkiest)

  1. Lopsided, misaligned or off-centre.
  2. (chiefly Britain, Australia, New Zealand) Feeble, shaky or 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; broken.
  4. (informal) Generally incorrect.
Derived terms[edit]


wonky (uncountable)

  1. 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.