Share this entry
honky-tonk Syllabification: hon·ky-tonk
Pronunciation: /ˈhäNGkē ˌtäNGk/
/ˈhôNGkē ˌtôNGk/

Definition of honky-tonk in English:


1North American A cheap or disreputable bar, club, or dance hall, typically where country music is played: country bands at highway honky-tonks
More example sentences
  • Here, you can get a taste of Memphis nightlife, where the blues continues to play in classic clubs and honky-tonks.
  • As someone who has sometimes wondered about her own capacity to drink herself to death, I was also intrigued by the shots of men and women inside honky-tonks and other bars, sometimes at after-show functions.
  • To soak up a little of the famous Nashville atmosphere, head for the honky-tonks in Downtown, a row of rough-and-ready bars all playing covers of your favourite country songs.
1.1 [as modifier] Squalid and disreputable: a honky-tonk beach resort
More example sentences
  • I'd hope to see the site redeveloped in a tasteful way and not in a honky-tonk fashion.
  • The town is but a decayed, honky-tonk version of the company town, with everything and everybody in it owned by Mr. Potter, the rapacious banker (and the town itself is, of course, Pottersville).
2US A style of country and western music of the 1950s associated with honky-tonks: good-time urban cowboy fare with a hint of honky-tonk and a healthy measure of rock
More example sentences
  • Following a tempestuous marriage, Nelson moved in 1953 to Fort Worth, became a country deejay and played bars, mixing honky-tonk and preaching.
  • The rise of honky-tonk and postwar traditional music strengthened the ‘southernness’ of country music, but country pop gave Nashville its most important tool in the battle for respectability.
  • Punching the buttons I find a country music station that's awash with honky-tonk.
3 [often as modifier] Ragtime piano music.
Example sentences
  • There is music for everyone in this city - traditional jazz, honky-tonk piano, Cajun, zydeco, rhythm and blues, gospel, rock, and country.
  • But when the foursome kept playing ragtime and honky-tonk music into the early hours the council decided to pull the plug.
  • The pianist had grand piano, harmonium, honky-tonk piano and celeste, and the percussionist had a range of tuned and untuned percussion.


Late 19th century: of unknown origin.

Definition of honky-tonk in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Related Words