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wonk (wongk) noun

An expert who studies a subject or issue thoroughly and excessively.

[Of unknown origin.]

This word is most often encountered in the term "policy wonk". There are many speculations about the origin of the word, for example an acronym for WithOut Normal Knowledge, or the reverse spelling of the word know, but these claims are not supported by evidence.

See more usage examples of wonk in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

"This sober, well-ordered city - where John Calvin was laid to rest - is also where the WTO is headquartered and where trade wonks get down to serious business." From Cancun to Geneva; The Economist (London, UK); Jul 30, 2004.

"Aside from being a genuine wit and an eloquent policy wonk, (Robert) Reich speaks the language of class." Eric Alterman; The Reich Stuff; Mother Jones (San Francisco, California); Jul/Aug 1995.

If archaic words are the grizzled old veterans of a language, slang terms are its feisty teenagers. These are words that are not afraid to experiment, twist, turn, blend, and innovate with language.

A few weeks ago we featured archaic expressions and now it's time to give slang its due. Since slang is often born on the gritty streets of language rather than in the language lab, its origins are often hard to pin down. We aren't sure where most of the words for this week originated but that shouldn't stop us from giving them a spin.

-Anu Garg


The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. -L.P. Hartley, writer (1895-1972)

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