Definitions

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

  • adj. Chiefly British Shaky; feeble.
  • adj. Chiefly British Wrong; awry.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Lopsided, misaligned or off-centre.
  • adj. Feeble, shaky or rickety.
  • adj. Suffering from intermittent bugs; broken.
  • adj. Generally incorrect.

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

  • adj. inclined to shake as from weakness or defect
  • adj. turned or twisted toward one side

Etymologies

Probably alteration of dialectal wanky, alteration of wankle, from Middle English wankel, from Old English wancol, unsteady.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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 *wankōnan (“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. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Now, if only their email "validation" wasn't so friggin wonky ... and you could have more than one email address ... sammysam

    Superminder Makes Managing Reminders A Snap | Lifehacker Australia

  • Really? and not one point of view is backed up with any substance; the snobbery about the orbit, for example, which is twice so lazily described as wonky, does not shed any light on mr long's objection to the idea or the execution. in fact re-reading this - out of sheer disbelief - i find no real content whatsoever. a terrible article, a terrible journalist.

    Evening Standard - Home

  • It's not terribly wonky, which is good, but it isn't light on specifics, either ...

    Blogrunner

  • They came out a bit wonky, which is alright, because I was too anxious to see it finished to worry about physiological accuracy.

    Chicken Blog

  • Chicago is known as a wonky school full of nerdy intellectual types so it wasn't surprising that I was able to easily gather a group willing to pick up this 1079 page cinderblock.

    Phawker

  • The new rules being developed may seem "wonky" but are important because the national forests provide drinking water for 124 million people in more than 900 cities nationwide and habitat for more rare species than national parks, said Jane Danowitz, public lands director for the Pew Environment Group.

    Forest Service Seeks More Control

  • Also, I made three attempts on a kind of wonky, mostly-overhung 5. 7+ that I get all freaked out by the traverse on.

    I am just a poor boy and my story's seldom told

  • The internet connection there is kind of wonky, but Shawn's brother was just there and he was working on getting wireless up and running again -- so maybe I'll be able to check in and post ocassionally.

    Day in the Life of an Idiot

  • If you looked up the work 'wonky' in the dictionary, you'd see that first cake in the definition.

    Rooby Dooby DOOO!!!

  • Despite the fact that the petition was, as Kurtz said, kind of "wonky," you immediately grasped its importance; it is highly problematic for someone as hawkish and conservative as Lieberman, who has publicly endorsed John McCain and backs the Bush-McCain war in Iraq, to hold a high ranking seat in the Democratic caucus.

    ZP Heller: A Grassroots Victory: Lieberman Must Go!

Comments

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  • See wonkie.

    October 9, 2008

  • Wait--there are only 8,000 sub-genres of techno music?

    September 24, 2007

  • Internet equivalent: borked.

    September 24, 2007

  • A good word for something a little messed up. Almost like out of whack.

    September 24, 2007

  • I like that, "Wonky code". I'll have to use that myself. Sort of like heisenbug.

    December 14, 2006

  • I usually use this word when describing something that's slightly, vaguely broken (like a bug that's intermittent, and not catastrophic. I launch a lot of wonky code, and then polish it up after the fact). But it's also apparently one of the 8,000 sub-genres of techno music.

    December 14, 2006