from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Slang A student who studies excessively; a grind.
  • n. Slang One who studies an issue or a topic thoroughly or excessively: "leading a talkathon of policy wonks in a methodical effort to build consensus for his programs” ( Michael Kranish).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An overly studious person, particularly student; a nerd.
  • n. A policy wonk or other intellectual expert.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an insignificant student who is ridiculed as being affected or boringly studious


Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
American English student slang 1954; perhaps navy slang before that. Expert sense popularized in the Clinton administration, 1993. (Wiktionary)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • A disparaging term for a studious or hardworking person. The Oxford English Dictionary asserts that the word wonk derives from “a term commonly applied by foreigners to the ordinary Chinese dog. From the Ningpo pronunciation wou n kyi, of the above two characters.�?

    July 27, 2009

  • a word a day on wonk

    December 2, 2008

  • Know spelled backwards.

    December 17, 2006