\ˈsnär-kē \

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 \ 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

More amusing than their masters are the maids and serving men: Richard Eisloeffel as Valentine's snarky servant, Speed; Stephanie Mattos as Proteus's hilarious help, Launce; and Shanna Sweeney as Julia's mordant minion, Lucetta. Irene Hsiao, Chicago Reader, "Two Gentlemen of Verona," 13 July 2018 Spiliadis is a savvy businessman and an idealist, an admirable combination in a world so jaded, snarky and cynical. Dan Rodricks,, "Rodricks: This restaurateur has something for the man who stole from him: a job," 2 June 2018 While engaging with customers in a snarky way has helped Wendy’s so far, companies need to be careful not to take things too far in the quest for social media fame. Outdoing the last tweet could cheapen the brand. Courtney Becker,, "Wendy's sassy twitter feed is fun and sets the bar for fast-food chains," 15 June 2018 But the New Haven chapter of Democracy for America, the progressive grassroots organization founded by former presidential candidate and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, took a surprisingly snarky tone about Lamont’s eight bathrooms. Neil Vigdor,, "Eight Is Enough? Joe Ganim Derides Ned Lamont For Multitude Of Bathrooms," 4 June 2018 The jukebox, photos and snarky neon signs went to auction when the diner closed in the early 2000s. azcentral, "Iconic Arizona businesses that are closed," 4 Nov. 2014 The film's impulse to profess a knowing, snarky superiority can become painfully awkward. Jen Yamato,, "Snark conquers all in 'Deadpool 2,' a superhero sequel that's more of the same," 15 May 2018 The commentary could be snarky on HBO with hosts Cord Hosenbeck (Will Ferrell) and Tish Cattigan (Molly Shannon). Hal Boedeker,, "Royal wedding: A really big show," 15 May 2018 An image of Khalif, pictured with a bullhorn inside the store across from a stoic employee, taken by Inquirer and Daily News photographer Michael Bryant, has been widely circulated on social media, often with snarky commentary. Patricia Madej,, "Inquirer photographer describes image behind viral Starbucks meme," 17 Apr. 2018

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

Dictionary Entries near snarky






snarling iron


Statistics for snarky

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for snarky

The first known use of snarky was in 1906

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on snarky

See words that rhyme with 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).


to reject or criticize sharply

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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