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. 2008Edwards 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 2007If your coworker confronts you, admit you were wrong. But don't overexplain your snarky comment—she may get angrier.— Margaret Magnarelli, Glamour, April 2002Even 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
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.