Green’s Dictionary of Slang

wanker n.

[wank v. (1), note late 19C Yorks./Norfolk dial. wanker, a simpleton; Partridge suggests origin in ‘late C.19’ but offers no evidence]

1. a masturbator.

[UK]B.S. Johnson All Bull 150: Rise and shine! Let’s have you! I said, get up, you fucking wankers!
[UK]F. Pitt-Kethley Sky Ray Lolly 24: Wankers [...] The slob was on next, pulling at himself.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 367: It was Billie, the wanker, who was holding his hand.
[UK]Sun. Times Mag. 6 Feb. 34: I was a donor. Yes, I’m a w***er.

2. (also wank) a general derog. description of a lazy, incompetent, unpleasant person.

[UK]J. Mandelkau Buttons 143: I asked them directly, waving an iron bar up and down, if they still thought my prospects were wankers.
[UK]P. Theroux Family Arsenal 195: They don’t know nothing, the wankers.
[UK]T. McClenaghan Submariners I i: He sounds like a right wanker.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 8: wanker – loser, uncool person.
[UK]A. Warner Sopranos 268: Fuckin wanker, goes Manda.
[UK]N. Cohn Yes We have No 201: A bunch of licensed wankers swapping porky-pies over lunch.
[UK]H. Mantel Beyond Black 322: Dionnie and Keith aren’t real and Evan is a wanker.
[Aus]P. Temple Broken Shore (2007) [ebook] You wankers [...] Looking after the rich, that’s your fucking job, isn’t it?
[UK]K. Richards Life 56: Mr Edgington, the wanker. Religious instruction.
[US] M. McBride Frank Sinatra in a Blender [ebook] If you had the money we wouldn’t be here, ya wanker.
[UK]T. Black Artefacts of the Dead [ebook] He’s a banker wanker!
[UK]I. Welsh Decent Ride 21: Back then, only ‘wanker’ rivalled it [i.e ‘poof’] as the most common term of abuse.

3. (Aus., also wank) a pretentious individual or object.

[Aus](con. 1900s) K. Denton Breaker 205: Mark you, he’s fair! Got to be truthful – he’s a wank and an arsehole, but not an unfair man!
[Aus]J. Barnett Head of the Force (1982) 37: If that collection of intellectual wankers cannot masturbate their egos within the privacy of their own offices when I need space for an operational enquiry, then surely they can use the briefing-rooms.
[Aus]P. Corris Baltic Business 72: Haven't seen you since that wank at the Institute.
[Aus]K. Lette Girls’ Night Out 56: You look like a suburban wanker getting round in that clobber.
[Aus]J. Blackman Aussie Sl. Dict. 107: wanker - A bloke whose stupidity is only exceeded by his over-inflated opinion of himself.
Tracks Oct. 66: Trev has more guts than a Waimea regular, more heart than a dozen politicians, and a love of surfing that makes ASP glory look like a self-indulgent wank.
[Aus]L. Redhead Thrill City [ebook] She swirled the name around her mouth like a wine-wanker savouring an expensive vintage.

4. (US campus) an undesirable situation or thing.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Nov. 4: wank, wanker – an undesirable person, situation, or thing.
[UK]R. Hewitt White Talk Black Talk 183: Give it a bit of a chance. Let the little wanker go away.

5. the penis.

[US] [Internet] The Big Guy may not speak to him, but he was blessed with another gift: a big fat bottlesize wanker.

6. see wank-pit under wank v.

In compounds

wanker-faced (adj.)

a general derog. description.

[UK]A. Sayle Train to Hell 21: What a fucking nob-headed, shit-faced, bollock-brained, turd-shaped, prick-arsed, wanker-faced cunt!
wanker’s doom (n.) (also wanker’s colic, whanker’s doom)

(orig. RAF) a fig. unpleasant fate.

[UK]P. Tempest Lag’s Lex. 229: A man suspected of excessive masturbation is said to be suffering from ‘whanker’s doom.’.
[UK]C. Wood Fill the Stage With Happy Hours (1967) Act VI: I’ll die of the wankers colic and it’s very disappointing. I should have stopped at my age.
[UK](con. WWII) B. Aldiss Soldier Erect 80: You’ve got Wanker’s Doom, cock, you have! Don’t care if I do go blind...
[UK]K. Bonfiglioli Don’t Point That Thing at Me (1991) 114: Mortdecai Minor, the likeliest candidate for wanker’s doom.

In phrases

go like a wanker’s elbow (v.)

to be extremely busy.

Curtain Up mag. [Internet] Richard Bean has a good ear for language and his script is full of colourful local expression, ‘the manic depressive who is more up and down than a wanker’s elbow.’.