How Well Do You Know English Slang?
"overly studious person," 1954, American English student slang, popularized 1993 during Clinton administration in U.S.; perhaps a shortening of British slang wonky "shaky, unreliable." Or perhaps a variant of British slang wanker "masturbator." It was earlier British naval slang for "midshipman" (1929).
Redolent of policy, theory, discussion, etc: Greenberg felt that a wonkish tone had pervaded the transition (1990s+)
[1990s+ College students; origin unknown; perhaps fr British wanker, ''masturbator''; in British sailor slang, wonk meant ''midshipman''; the term became suddenly common in the phrase policy wonk during the first year of the Clinton administration, 1993]