Word Origin & History
"overly studious person," 1954, Amer.Eng. student slang, popularized 1993 during Clinton administration in U.S.; perhaps a shortening of Brit. slang wonky "shaky, unreliable" (1919), which perhaps is from Ger. wankel- or from from surviving dialectal words based on O.E. wancol "shaky, tottering" (see
). Or perhaps a variant of Brit. slang wanker
"masturbator." It was earlier British naval slang for "midshipman" (1929).