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


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combining form

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

Examples of narco in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
The video for the two singles starts with Cano dropping bars (backed by a more electronic-leaning sound) in the studio from the perspective of a narco with a penchant for diamonds and luxury. Tomás Mier, Rolling Stone, 4 Apr. 2024 Mexico is rife with stories about exotic narco pets. Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, 17 Jan. 2024 Most of the album’s songs narrate rags-to-riches stories with lyrics inspired by narco culture, the style of storytelling that has defined corridos bélicos. Griselda Flores, Billboard, 5 Jan. 2024 A lot of the coverage of narco issues in general has been dominated by male writers and macho narratives. Deborah Bonello, Los Angeles Times, 14 Nov. 2023 The female narco — who went by the names the Black Widow, La Madrina and the Cocaine Godmother — was one of the most powerful cocaine traffickers in the 1980s and a key figure in Miami’s drug wars. Jackie Strause, The Hollywood Reporter, 21 Sep. 2023 With the proliferation of drugs has come a new narco culture. Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, 14 Sep. 2023 Mexican security forces call these vehicles monstruos (monsters), but they are also known as rinocerontes (rhinos) and narcotanques (narco-tanks). Emiliano Rodríguez Mega, New York Times, 1 Aug. 2023 Mexican authorities’ investigation into the killings resulted in decades-long sentences for at least five narco-satánicos, according to the Associated Press. María Luisa Paúl, Washington Post, 9 Mar. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'narco.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



(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

First Known Use


1954, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of narco was in 1954

Dictionary Entries Near narco

Cite this Entry

“Narco.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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