I used this link but I still can't understand it: https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/wonky?q=wonky "This isn't just some wonky talk either. Low inflation plays out in a very real way."

Source: http://money.cnn.com/2017/10/19/news/economy/inflation-economy-mystery/index.html?iid=SF_LN

  • I'd say that "wonky talk" means here "idle chatter", just speculations. – Yulia Oct 22 '17 at 10:19

It's another rather unused word and it's polysemous, which means it has several different meanings. It can mean "unsteady or unstable/shaky"; it can mean "crooked"; it can mean "not functioning correctly"; in your instance, from the context clues, it most likely means "crazy or mentally unstable". "Wonky talk" is "crazy talk".

NOTE: Oxford apparently doesn't give you all of the possible definitions; it just gives you one definition.

P.S. I have been informed that this may be being used as the adjective of "wonk", which is similar to a nerd (it's a person who studies a lot and has no life). In English, it's very seldom that we would use "wonky" as an adjective for "wonk"; we'd use it as a replacement for the obsolete adjective "wankle" with some of the definitions I've given you above. To use it to mean "of or relating to a wonk" would confuse a lot of native speakers like me, who are used to hearing it mean "out of whack", "crazy", "feeble or unsteady". For example:

"Donald Trump is now the President of the United States. Has this whole country gone wonky? Is the system using the electoral college rather than the popular vote outdated and wonky?"

Now, I voted for Donald Trump, so I wouldn't ever say this; however, I have heard statements similar to this using "wonky". It's a weird way of saying everything is backwards or off-kilter. If I were trying to talk about how a wonk speaks, I would say,

"That's a bunch of wonk talk"


"That's a bunch of nerd talk";

I would never say,

"That's wonky talk."

  • 1
    +1 But note that it in this particular context it might also mean "characteristic of wonks"--expert jargon which laypersons cannot distinguish from meaningless doublespeak. – StoneyB on hiatus Oct 22 '17 at 14:15
  • Yes, that's another meaning. I hadn't read the article before answering, so I just used context clues. Yes, "of or relating to a wonk" has the adjective "wonky". A wonk is like a nerd---someone who studies a lot. It's a bad word to use therein because it is a rarely-used polysemous word, meaning we don't use it often and it has several meanings based upon context. – Nick Oct 22 '17 at 15:22
  • wonkish would probably have been a better choice to refer to the jargon of economic policy wonks. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 22 '17 at 19:57

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