policy wonk / policy wank

Mark A Mandel mam at THEWORLD.COM
Tue Jan 8 03:09:04 UTC 2002

>From another list I'm on. I'm not sure from the quoting
pattern whether the first paragraph of text ("Um, around
here...") was written by (name 2), who lives in the West of
Canada, or by (name 1), whose location I don't remember.

-- Mark A. Mandel
   Linguist at Large

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: (name 2)

(name 1) wrote:

Um, around here, a "policy wank" is an _event_, not a person. And yes, it means
what you'd think. A truly stupid policy meeting. See also, 'departmental wank'
-- as in, "I'd love to, but I have to go to the monthly ~ that night."  Also,
"tented wank", a) an act of self-abuse concealed by a sheet; b) a party that
takes place out-of-doors under a pavillion. cf. Jilly Cooper.

> When speaking of a person who likes to distinguish
> trivial details of an obscure subject, is the
> correct form  "subject wAnk" or "subject wOnk" ?

My personal feeling is that the latter is the original idiom, and the former
probably an inspired bit of play intended as a derogatory version.

(name 2), who for example can think of some people (s/he)
would call policy wonks and also some (s/he) would designate
policy wanks.

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