honky, honkie, honkey (pl. honkies, honkeys). Sometimes capitalized. Frequently abusive term used by black people primarily for a white person, often male. According to the Dictionary of American Regional English (1991), honky has been used in Los Angeles for Chicanos as well as white people. Native Americans, adopting the term from popular 1960s black usage, have also applied it to white people or similar, light-skinned, middle-class people. Although the term is derisive, white people may not regard it as such, newspaper columnist Anna Quindlen argues that "being called a honky is not in the same league as being called a nigger," referring to the lack of impact the epithet has on white people, who are less vulnerable to slurs than are people of color. In the 1960s white supporters of the Black Panthers wore buttons that read "Honkies for Huey," referring to Huey P. Newton, one of the founders of the Panthers.
The term's origin is unclear. Many argue strongly that it is a deformation of hunk, or hunky (in turn from Hun, from Hungary), a pejorative word for an immigrant central European laborer. It apparently came to he generalized in black use from the white immigrant workers, many of whom were competitors with black people in the job market, to virtually all white people. Aman (1996, 69), however, demurs at this etymology, claiming that black people had little contact with newly immigrated eastern Europeans. The American Heritage Dictionary (1992) treats it as a blend of Wolof (a language of a West African people) honq (red, pink, of light complexion) and hunky.
Others have unconvincingly said honky comes from the honking sound of pigs, the nasal tone of white people, or the dating practice of white men in Detroit who sat in their cars and honked their horns in front of the houses where their black girlfriends worked as maids. It has also been traced to honk, which was once used by musicians for a brassy music played for poor black people and the places it was played, giving rise to honkytonk, a word that later came to be reserved for the music of poor white people. Many such stories, however interesting, say more about the experiences of African Americans with white people than they do about the origins of the usage.
A “superhonkie” is a powerful white racist.