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Dewonkify – Wonk

The Word:  Wonk

The Meaning: An expert or someone steeped in the details of a particular issue area or field, e.g. policy wonk.   Sometimes used as a compliment (“She’s a real health policy wonk”) and sometimes used as an insult to suggest someone is a nerd (“I would never date such a wonk”).

Used in a Sentence:The Bully vs. The Wonk

What it Means: Washington, DC is filled with wonks - people with deep expertise in specific policy issues, who sometimes speak in a vernacular often not understood by people outside the Beltway.  Hence, the need for this column – to “dewonkify” words!

History: According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary the word first appeared in 1954.

© 2020 Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume II, Number 334


About this Author

Ilisa Paul, District Policy Group President, Drinker Biddle, Government Attorney
President, District Policy Group

Ilisa Halpern Paul has more than 20 years of experience in government relations, advocacy, and policymaking in for-profit, non-profit, academic, federally-funded, and government settings. She leads the firm’s Lobbying, Policy and Advocacy team as managing government relations director and is president of the District Policy Group.

Ilisa advises for-profit companies and non-profit organizations with respect to advancing their federal legislative, regulatory, programmatic, policy, and...

(202) 230-5145