wonk as a verb

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Fri Jun 27 14:45:59 UTC 2008

On Fri, Jun 27, 2008 at 10:28 AM, Benjamin Zimmer
<bgzimmer at ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
> On Fri, Jun 27, 2008 at 9:30 AM, Marc Velasco <marcjvelasco at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I don't believe it's been posted here yet, but _wonk_ is also apparently a
>> verb, at least in wonk circles.  Krugman writes today (
>> http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/27/opinion/27krugman.html?hp):
>> Whether that's happening now is a subject of highly technical dispute.
>> (Readers who want _to wonk_ themselves out can go to my blog,
>> krugman.blogs.nytimes.com, and follow the links.)
> Reflexive "wonk oneself out" sounds a bit odd to me, but intransitive
> "wonk out" has been around for a while. From a 1987 NYT article on
> campus slang:
> -----
> 1987 _New York Times_ 12 Apr. (Education) 14/1 Right now, they [sc.
> Harvard students] are probably "wonking out" for exams, i.e. studying
> excessively.
> -----

Earlier, from the Crimson archives:

1979 _Harvard Crimson_ 24 Feb. (electronic) Wonking out.

1985 _Harvard Crimson_ 16 July (electronic) Maybe the fact that
everyone else around me was studying so hard (or wonking out, as
you'll learn to call it) helped perpetuate my compulsive studying.

And here's "wonk" as a verb without "out":

1977 _Harvard Crimson_ 4 Nov. (electronic) Veteran Quaddies will tell
you that the place just ain't the same without all those little
freshmen ... wonking for classes before January, and doing all those
other cute freshmen things that endear them so in our hearts.

"Wonk" as a noun shows up in the Crimson archives beginning in 1956
(though it's in Time two years earlier):


--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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