Nark, not Snark

A friend recently pulled me up for saying someone was being narky, telling me that the word is ‘snarky’, not ‘narky’.

Uh no, I said ‘narky’ and I meant ‘narky’.

For the friend who still thinks I’m making it up I turn to the Macquarie Dictionary:

–noun 1. an informer; a spy, especially for the police. 2. a scolding, complaining person; one who is always interfering and spoiling the pleasure of others.
–verb (t) 3. to nag; irritate; annoy: “This made me a little narked, then I realised that I was only young and he wouldn’t have thought that I was applying for the job myself.” –ALBERT FACEY, 1981. 4. Obsolete to cause (a person, plan, etc.) to fail: he tried to nark my scheme
–verb (i) 5. to act as an informer. [Romany nak nose]
narky, adjective

and to the OED:

narky Irascible, vexed, bad-tempered, sarcastic. First citation: 1895 Leeds Mercury Weekly Suppl. 13 July 3/8 “Doan’t let’s get narky ower it”.

Okay, that’s enough narkiness out of me.


  1. Tess on #

    I’ve always been under the impression that ‘narky’ and ‘snarky’ were more or less identical. Snark just has a hiss to it.

  2. gwenda on #

    I still prefer snarky, just cause it reminds me of Daniel Pinkwater’s The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death. Does that makes me geekier than I already am?

  3. Justine on #

    Tess: according to the OED ‘narky’ is older than ‘snarky’. They do indeed have almost identical meanings. first appearance in print is 1906 from Nesbit’s the railway children. Cool, eh? Strewth, but I love the oed!

    This particular friend seemed to be under the impression that ‘snark’ is a newly invented word that refers to mean reviews, and that those of us using ‘nark’ or ‘narky’ somehow misheard and are clinging to our mishearing.

    gwenda: I’m an old-fashioned girl and I grew up with ‘narky’ so I prefer it, but either way I’m fine. I just don’t like being told that I’m making up words (except when I am). Geeky is good, not as good as daggy, but still good.

  4. Shelly Rae on #

    I’ve heard both used but my strongest association with nark and narky comes with a slightly different spelling. See, I went to high school in a prime agricultural community in California where kids routinely used “narc” as an insult for anyone who complained or possibly ratted out others. So “narcy” was someone with a “holier-than-thou” attitude. But this word comes from the abbreviation for “narcotics Officer” rather than your old word.
    I too adore using the OED, tis passing cool. Or is that bonzer?

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