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
    Commented May 13, 2014 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
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 9:15
  • Any relation to "snarky" in American English? Seems to mean the same?
    – user75038
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 12:48

2 Answers 2


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).

  • thefreedictionary.com/narc shows narc and nark are synonyms
    – Pooja Raja
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 9:27
  • 1
    @PoojaRaja yes, but that nark is not the same word as the nark I refer to here. See narc. Commented May 13, 2014 at 9:29
  • 1
    Yes, the first meaning in your link is a variant of narc, but that is unrelated to the meaning that means an annoying person. Commented May 13, 2014 at 9:37
  • 2
    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
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 9:59
  • 1
    Maybe something related to nosy people being quite annoying.
    – skymningen
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 13:15

I think it might have some relation with French narquois.

narquois: mocking; derisive.

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