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Snarkiness validated

A post on Elizabeth Large’s Dining @ Large blog, “What to do about the snarkers,” has led to a little pellet dropped at my site by the elusive commenter Owl Meat:

What do you think about a post whose topic is an ill-defined slang word? I got all pinot noir angsty and kirked out on my blomeys¹ last night about the word "snarkers". Any thoughts?

1 blog homeys

Much as I dislike having to contradict His Raptorness, I am unable to condemn snarker out of hand. Snarky — irritable or short-tempered — has a pedigree extending back a century. The Oxford English Dictionary records this sentence from E. Nesbit’s Railway Children of 1906: “Don’t be snarky, Peter. It isn’t our fault.”

And, as anyone familiar with patterns of movement in English knows full well, once a word lodges itself in the language in one form, it will not take long for it to spread into the adjacent classifications. Thus, once there is snarky, there must be snark (n.) ill-tempered remarks, snark (v.i.) to utter such remarks, snarker (n.) one who utters snarky remarks, and snarkiness (n.) the quality inherent in snark. Snarkily (adv.) is probably not far behind.

You may not care for it, but you cannot stop it.

As far as individual snarkers go, I can offer you a brief update on Mr. Animus, mentioned previously as a prime specimen of the breed in “Painful cases,” with an addendum in “The carnage.”

Mr. Animus has made himself so obnoxious at Gannett Blog that the proprietor, Jim Hopkins, made it the most recent site to ban him from further commenting: “You are no longer welcome on this blog because you have abused your privileges. Please do not come back.”

Mr. Hopkins added this advice to his readers: “Abusive posters can destroy blogs, message boards and other online forums. I choose to allow anonymous commenting because of this blog's sensitive topics. The best way to deal with abusive posters is to deny them the attention they crave. Please, IGNORE them!”

Excellent advice, since any attention given to these types dilates their already exalted sense of their own significance. Thus this is likely the last mention of Mr. Animus you can expect to see here.



Posted by John McIntyre at 8:06 PM | | Comments (4)


I think I'd rather use "snark" and its various forms over the cruder "b*tch" and its various forms.

Thanks John. I just couldn't find it in my owl-sized dictionary. You would think something that old would show up in regular dictionaries.

P.S. I hope my own twisting of the language wasn't too painful. You know you're my blomey.

I just seem to recall that the Snark was a boojum.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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