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I know that historically honky was a pejorative term for a white person and that it may still be so but there is a 1973 song by the British band called Vinegar Joe titled 'Proud to be (a Honky Woman)' where this word is clearly used in a desirable sense.

Is this a one-off or have the attributes of the word changed?

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    All of the online dictionaries that I've looked at list it as pejorative only – Chris M Feb 11 '17 at 9:57
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    That information (with names of those dictionaries) needs adding to your question. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 11 '17 at 10:08
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    'I'm not interested in what the dictionaries have to say but in what current usage may be' sounds very laudable but is an invitation for unauthoritative speculation and opinion. Dictionaries, while imperfect, are usually the best we've got. They do unbiased and large-scale surveys. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 11 '17 at 10:38
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    ChrisM Your comment about the content of the lyrics would be better edited into the question. I didn't find any lyrics online (but I didn't look very hard, admittedly). That said, @BoldBen's hypothesis of a reclamation of honky, similar to how queer was reclaimed from being a pejorative epithet by its target community, seems reasonable. – Andrew Leach Feb 11 '17 at 11:16
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    My impression has always been that it's only mildly pejorative. And, of course, the word is used in contexts such as "honky-tonk" where it might imply "lower-class", but has no strong racial overtones. – Hot Licks Feb 11 '17 at 12:34
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The most common meaning of honky is "white person". According to Communicating offense: the sordid life of language use:

…the word “honky” is a derogatory term for a Caucasian. Anyone who claims to be using it in a non-derogatory sense is also making a linguistic error.


There is, however, another definition for honky (noun):

Freq. with capital initial. An immigrant from central or eastern Europe, esp. one working as a manual labourer. Hence occas. more generally: any person employed in manual or unskilled work.
oed.com

This definition is "rare" and "chiefly historic in later use". It may not seem offensive, but it was often used alongside other slurs like dago, wop, and bohunk.

Between the two definitions, OED says it's "chiefly derogatory".

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