Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A student who studies excessively; a grind.
  • noun One who studies an issue or topic thoroughly or excessively.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun derogatory An overly studious person, particularly student; a nerd.
  • noun by extension A policy wonk or other intellectual expert.

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Origin unknown.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

American English student slang 1954; perhaps navy slang before that. Expert sense popularized in the Clinton administration, 1993.

Examples

Comments

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  • Know spelled backwards.

    December 17, 2006

  • a word a day on wonk

    December 2, 2008

  • 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