Definitions

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

  • adjective Shaky or unsteady.
  • adjective Out of alignment; crooked.
  • adjective Not functioning properly or normally:
  • adjective Mentally unbalanced; crazy.

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

  • adjective chiefly UK, Australia, New Zealand Lopsided, misaligned or off-centre.
  • adjective chiefly UK, Australia, New Zealand Feeble, shaky or rickety.
  • adjective computing Suffering from intermittent bugs; broken.
  • adjective Generally incorrect.

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Probably alteration of dialectal wanky, alteration of wankle, from Middle English wankel, from Old English wancol, unsteady.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.

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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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

    Blogrunner

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

    Blogrunner

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

    Blogrunner

  • 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

Comments

New comments are temporarily disabled while we update our database.

  • 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

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

    December 14, 2006

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

    September 24, 2007

  • Internet equivalent: borked.

    September 24, 2007

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

    September 24, 2007

  • See wonkie.

    October 9, 2008