Anybody have any idea where the word "narky" comes from?

I speak British English and I understand the word to mean irritated or bad-tempered. Similarly I've heard the phrase "narked off".


He got really narky with me when I pointed out that he'd made a mistake again.


I got really narked off when my little sister lost my favourite necklace.

  • narc or nark+ -y where nark means someone who is annoying or disturbing. – Pooja Raja May 13 '14 at 9:13
  • The strange thing is that nark in that meaning is mentioned as Australian slang, where narky is British slang. (Nark in British slang is a police informer). – oerkelens May 13 '14 at 9:15
  • Any relation to "snarky" in American English? Seems to mean the same? – user75038 May 13 '14 at 12:48

Narky and narked both come from the verb nark (not from narc, which is unrelated).

Nark means "to cause annoyance" and is derived from the Romany for nose (nāk).

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  • thefreedictionary.com/narc shows narc and nark are synonyms – Pooja Raja May 13 '14 at 9:27
  • @PoojaRaja yes, but that nark is not the same word as the nark I refer to here. See narc. – Matt E. Эллен May 13 '14 at 9:29
  • The link I provided clearly says that nark is a variant of narc and it also means a lawman concerned with narcotics violations. – Pooja Raja May 13 '14 at 9:34
  • Yes, the first meaning in your link is a variant of narc, but that is unrelated to the meaning that means an annoying person. – Matt E. Эллен May 13 '14 at 9:37
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    The Romany nak (nose) giving rise to a copper's nark (police informer) seems very plausible. But how did we get from nose to annoying? I suppose there's analogy with something 'getting up my nose'. – user24964 May 13 '14 at 9:59

I think it might have some relation with French narquois.

narquois: mocking; derisive.

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