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

  • n. A cheap, noisy bar or dance hall.
  • adj. Of or relating to such a bar or dance hall; tawdry: a honky-tonk district; honky-tonk entertainers.
  • adj. Of, relating to, or being a type of ragtime characteristically played on a tinny-sounding piano or in a honky-tonk.
  • intransitive v. To visit cheap, noisy bars or dance halls.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A cheap nightclub
  • n. The type of music typically played in such a club
  • n. A style of country music emphasizing traditional country instruments (e.g., guitar, steel guitar and fiddle); a rough, nasal vocal style; and tragic themes such as heartbreak, infidelity and alcoholism.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Pertaining to or resembling a honky-tonk.
  • adj. Pertaining to a style of ragtime piano music having a melody embellished with chords and syncopated rhythms, accompanied by a bass in strict two-four or four-four time. It is often played on an upright piano having its strings muffled to produce a tinny sound.
  • n. a cheap drinking and dancing establishment; a cheap and tawdry nightclub.
  • n. A district in which honky-tonks{1} are found.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Alow groggery: a slang name among the negroes of the southern United States.

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

  • n. a cheap drinking and dancing establishment
  • n. a cheap disreputable nightclub or dance hall


Perhaps from honk.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From honk-a-tonk ("a cheap nightclub"), possibly imitative (Wiktionary)



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