\ ˈsnär-kē How to pronounce snarky (audio) \

Definition of snarky

2 : sarcastic, impertinent, or irreverent in tone or manner snarky lyrics

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from snarky

snarkily \ ˈsnär-​kə-​lē How to pronounce snarky (audio) \ adverb

Snarky vs. Sarcastic

Some have questioned whether snarky is a real word. There can be no doubt that it is; the adjective has been recorded in English since 1906. Its original meaning, “crotchety, snappish,” has largely been overtaken, however, by the far more frequently-encountered sense “sarcastic, impertinent or irreverent.” The precise difference between utterances described as sarcastic and snarky will vary somewhat based on the individual using each word. Some feel that sarcastic usually implies irony, or stating the opposite of what is really intended (for example, “thank you so much for your promptness” spoken to someone who arrives late), whereas snarky implies simple impertinence or irreverence (as when Downton Abbey's Dowager Countess asks Isobel Crawley, “does it ever get cold on the moral high ground?”)

Examples of snarky in a Sentence

The writer at No. 10, Fred Mustard Stewart, died last February at 74. His obituary in The Guardian contained this snarky observation: "Year in, year out, the 600-page mark did not daunt him." — Dwight Garner, New York Times Book Review, 24 Feb. 2008 Edwards says his notorious $400 haircut and his 28,000-square-foot house are the obsessions of the media, not "normal voters." (He does have a snarkier press corps than RFK. Not only did reporters not criticize the size of Kennedy's Virginia mansion, they wrote fawning prose about the senator in the hopes of scoring an invitation.) — Jonathan Darman, Newsweek, 30 July 2007 If your coworker confronts you, admit you were wrong. But don't overexplain your snarky comment—she may get angrier. — Margaret Magnarelli, Glamour, April 2002 Even when he pays someone a compliment, it comes out snarky; recently Valentine said he thought Atlanta's Bobby Cox should be named National League Manager of the Year "because he's had to manage this year." It doesn't matter that until Monday, Valentine managed 1,703 games without making the playoffs. — S. L. Price, Sports Illustrated, 11 Oct. 1999 working all day with such snarky jerks is exhausting with champagne as a lubricant, she unleashed an unending series of snarky comments for the duration of the wedding reception
See More
Recent Examples on the Web It’s the kind of line Irby deploys to delicious effect throughout her books—at once wistful, snarky, and just a bit morbid. The Atlantic Culture Desk, The Atlantic, "The Books Briefing: The Best Books of 2020," 25 Dec. 2020 It’s the kind of line Irby deploys to delicious effect throughout her books—at once wistful, snarky, and just a bit morbid. The Atlantic Culture Desk, The Atlantic, "The 15 Best Books of 2020," 24 Dec. 2020 The bold aesthetic choices that drew so much flak and snarky memes in Christmases past are noticeably absent. New York Times, "The White House Christmas Decorations Look Strikingly Normal," 30 Nov. 2020 My best friend constantly makes snarky comments about me working from home. Author: Wayne And Wanda, Anchorage Daily News, "My best friend keeps making snide comments about how easy I have it now that I work from home," 29 Nov. 2020 The Prova's snarky skin looks sensational from a few feet away, but up close its kit-car heritage is immediately apparent. Arthur St. Antoine, Car and Driver, "Tested: 1988 Prova Designs Countach Looks Like the Real Thing, But Isn't," 25 Nov. 2020 My brother is venting by making snarky comments on their wedding posts. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, "Carolyn Hax: Parents favoring one child isn’t doing anybody any favors," 17 Nov. 2020 Princess Anne blasted David Bowie in her car and was smart and snarky on multiple occasions. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: New season of ‘The Crown’ is packed with TV riches," 13 Nov. 2020 Caroli thinks the outgoing first lady might make occasional attempts to send snarky messages to the media through her clothes. Maria Puente, USA Today, "What’s next for soon-to-be former first lady Melania Trump?," 8 Nov. 2020

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

See More

First Known Use of snarky

1906, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for snarky

dialectal snark to annoy, perhaps alteration of nark to irritate

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about snarky

Time Traveler for snarky

Time Traveler

The first known use of snarky was in 1906

See more words from the same year

Statistics for snarky

Last Updated

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Snarky.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

More from Merriam-Webster on snarky

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for snarky

Comments on snarky

What made you want to look up snarky? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!