Word Wonks' Corner | Letters | Chicago Reader

News & Politics » Letters

Word Wonks' Corner


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


To the editors:

In the "Stop This Word" item in his December 25 Hot Type column, Michael Miner pleads for the retirement of the word "wonk," calling it a "term that was fresh when the New Republic began using it months ago to describe Clinton Democrats and has now leached into the mass media and become a cliche."

Actually, Miner arrives at the cliche party about five months late. Word maven William Safire noted the ubiquity of the W word, as in "policy wonk," in his July 26 New York Times Magazine language column and traced its current usage to a 1984 article in the New Republic by Sidney Blumenthal.

Jack Shafer

Washington City Paper

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →