: sarcastic, impertinent, or irreverent in tone or manner
snarky lyrics
snarkily adverb

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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
Recent Examples on the Web John Oliver has some snarky thoughts about Donald Trump’s latest fundraising efforts. Shania Russell, EW.com, 1 Apr. 2024 Sure, her fashion commentary about fellow celebrities could be snarky and biting, but Rivers walked the walk. Christian Allaire, Vogue, 8 Mar. 2024 Stark’s right-hand app, the snarky artificial intelligence J.A.R.V.I.S., is voiced by actor Paul Bettany. Andrew Walsh, EW.com, 24 Mar. 2024 Some of those pages have built sizable followings in recent months, with the posts often garnering comments ranging from bot-like praise to snarky remarks aimed at users who seem to believe the images are real. Angela Yang, NBC News, 19 Mar. 2024 And Ricky Martin, as snarky but secretly sweet bartender Robert, emerges as the closest thing this series has to a beating heart. Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Mar. 2024 Some generative AIs such as Grok tend to lean in a different direction, such as being cynical and snarky. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 29 Feb. 2024 On March 12, Brittany took to her Instagram Stories to wish her hubby a happy anniversary, with a series of throwback photos as well as boomerangs from the day, in a tone that is surprisingly earnest for the usually snarky personality. Kathleen Walsh, Glamour, 13 Mar. 2024 As Diggs explains with his own caption, their blunt plea is a reference to the famously snarky picture book, Go the F--- to Sleep. Shania Russell, EW.com, 7 Mar. 2024

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

Word History


dialectal snark to annoy, perhaps alteration of nark to irritate

First Known Use

1906, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of snarky was in 1906

Dictionary Entries Near snarky

Cite this Entry

“Snarky.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/snarky. Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

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