nar·​co | \ ˈnär-(ˌ)kō How to pronounce narco (audio) \
plural narcos

Definition of narco

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 US slang : one who traffics or deals drugs illegally One of the ways for big narcos to launder drug money was to acquire land.— Maureen Orth … the US government has for the past fifteen years been waging all-out war on the Colombian narcos, with little to show for it.— Michael Massing also : narcotic drugs usually used before another noun narco traffic/traffickers narco smuggling — see also narco- sense 2
2 US slang : a person investigating narcotics violations : narc Students also have agitated against university acquiescence in the presence on the campus of "narcos"—police agents seeking to make arrests for violations of narcotics laws …— Earl C. Gottschalk Jr.

Definition of narco- (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : deep sleep narcolepsy
2 [narcotic] : associated with, relating to, or engaged in the sale of illegal narcotics narco-terrorism narco-corruption narco-criminals narco-dollars [=dollars gained through the sale of illegal narcotics]

Examples of narco in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Leave the narco-trafficking routes alone and no harm would come their way. New York Times, 4 May 2022 Colombia’s 2016 surrender to the narco-trafficking guerrilla group FARC was negotiated in Havana, under the guidance of the Obama administration. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, 20 Mar. 2022 The three must overcome the armies of little monsters, narco-traffickers who themselves are stuck in the village, and several locals. Jamie Lang, Variety, 5 Nov. 2021 That recommendation follows years of economic and logistical support from Washington to put an end to the country's conflicts -- from narco-trafficking to guerrilla warfare. Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, 6 Feb. 2022 Which narco-traffickers were battling one other municipio by municipio? Peter Canby, The New Yorker, 10 Jan. 2022 Cash-rich traffickers are even testing new technologies like drones and building ocean-crossing narco-submarines. David Luhnow, WSJ, 21 Jan. 2022 Since the early 2000s, Colombia has sent numerous high-profile narco-traffickers to the United States, perhaps the most famous being 14 paramilitary leaders from the AUC — a list that included Rogelio’s boss, Don Berna — in May 2008. Anchorage Daily News, 27 Dec. 2021 But still, the end of a blatant narco-dictatorship means that, for the first time in 12 years, Hondurans can breathe a little bit easier. Jared Olson, The New Republic, 2 Dec. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'narco.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of narco


1954, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for narco


(sense 1) borrowed from American Spanish, probably short for narcotraficante "drug trafficker," from narco- narco- + traficante "dealer, trafficker"; (sense 2) from narc- (as in narcotics agent, narcotics officer) + -o entry 1

Combining form

combining form from Greek nárkē "numbness, lack of sensation"; (sense 2) in part after American Spanish narco- (as in narcodependencia "drug dependency," narcotráfico "drug trafficking") — more at narcosis

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Last Updated

11 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Narco.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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