Green’s Dictionary of Slang

nark n.1

also knark
[Rom. nak, nose]

1. a police informer.

[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 68: Vhy, thunder me groggy! if any trav’ler gets rest there – why it is a reglar bug trap [...] and the donna of the ken is a dead crab, and a nark.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 179: nark a person in the pay of the police; a common informer; one who gets his living by laying traps for publicans, &c.
[UK] ‘Autobiog. of a Thief’ in Macmillan’s Mag. (London) XL 505: While laying there, I piped a reeler whom I knew; he had a nark (a policeman’s spy) with him.
[UK]Leicester Chron. 19 July 12/1: I allus took him to be a nark for the slops.
[UK]W.E. Henley ‘Villon’s Good-Night’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 175: For you, you coppers, narks, and dubs, / Who pinched me when upon the snam.
[UK]A. Morrison Child of the Jago (1982) 188: Sing a hymn, ye snivellin’ nark!
[UK]J.D. Brayshaw Slum Silhouettes 1: Yer ain’t no bloomin’ ’tec, or copper’s nark, are yer?
[Aus]Stephens & O’Brien Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.] 90: KNARK or NARK: thieves an informer or marplot: one who is changeable or unreliable.
[Aus]W.A. Sun. Times (Perth) 19 May 1/1: The brutal nark may shortly hear something to his disadvantage in thescolumns.
[UK]Marvel 12 Nov. 9: Threats of murder were hurled at the coppers’ narks.
[NZ]Truth (Wellington) 11 Jan. 5/5: Don’t drum (tell) anyone that you are coming down here, for this town is full of narks (police spies).
[UK]T. Burke Limehouse Nights 244: Henry was the narkiest nark in East London.
[UK]N. Lucas London and its Criminals 56: Meeting places where all kinds of ‘business’ can be discussed safely without the risk of eaves-dropping by either detectives or a ‘nark’.
[UK]G. Greene Brighton Rock (1943) 84: The kind of face a nark might have, a man who grassed to the bogies.
[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 90: He’s a nark.
[UK]S. Jackson Indiscreet Guide to Soho 30: She imagined only a copper’s ‘nark’ would ask so many questions.
[Aus]F.J. Hardy Power Without Glory 80: You can’t come in here! [...] ’Cos we don’t have police-pimps about ’ere, that’s why. You Stacey, and you’re a bloody nark.
[SA]J. Yates-Benyon Weak and the Wicked 139: ‘Bloody copper’s nark,’ she spat out in a high-pitched East End nasal whine.
[UK]R. Cook Crust on its Uppers 45: Some effing copper’s nark.
[UK]A. Sillitoe Start in Life (1979) 266: I thought they were all police and narks ready to surround and rend me.
[SA]H. Levin Bandiet 121: Informers – ‘narks’ as they were called, in Afrikaans or English [...] were an essential part of the whole system of control as practised at Central.
[UK]A. Burgess 1985 (1980) 173: Don’t be a bloody idiot. I’m not a nark.
[NZ]H. Beaton Outside In I i: She a nark?
[Ire]R.E. Tangney Other Days Around Me 91: It was an invitation to become a squealer, a copper’s nark, to sell Danny down the river.
[Aus]M.B. ‘Chopper’ Read How to Shoot Friends 97: Their former president turned out to be a nark and a police informer.
[UK]M. Rowson Stuff 38: The colleague sitting next to him was a Stasi nark.

2. (UK Und.) a pickpocket’s assistant, who distracts the victim and keeps a look-out.

[UK]Ragged School Mag. Dec. 294: I was sometimes the ‘tool,’ and sometimes the ‘stall’ or ‘nark’. Our profession was ‘moll tulers (or ladies’ pickpockets) .

3. a miser.

[UK]Kendal Mercury 3 Apr. 6/2: Bless you, mid kids, ven he does the begging caper, the greediest old nark (miser) will down with the needful.

4. (mainly Aus./N.Z., also narker) an irritating person, a spoilsport, a badly behaved person.

[UK]R. Nicholson Cockney Adventures 6 Jan. 78: Dick, stall the nark off here, will you?
[UK]Sporting Times 31 Mar. 2/1: If anybody will show me the hiding-place of the caitiff-wretch who told me Survivor was the best miler in the world and as good a plucked-’un as they make, the nark shall receive a presentation copy of ‘the great game’.
[Aus]Brisbane Courier 29 May 6/3: As against the ‘boshter’ bloke we find [...] the ‘nark’ or spoilsport.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 1 Jan. 8/3: ‘Strike me pink!’ he sez, says he; / ‘Why, goblime, she's the narker / As did swear the kid to me!’.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘The Play’ in Bulletin (Sydney) 16 July 47/1: Fair narks they are, jist like them backstreet clicks, / Ixcep’ they fights wiv skewers ’stid o’ bricks.
[UK]T. Norman Penny Showman 19: It is surprising the effect that a nark can have on a sceptical audience.
[Aus]N. Lindsay Age Of Consent 26: Fair cow, that john [...] Nark; stopped us playing cricket on Sundays.
[Aus]K. Tennant Battlers 154: ‘Aw, don’t be a nark,’ the boy stammered. ‘Be a sport and help me upstairs. I’m all in.’.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 222: The bloody place is full of narks who want to pull a man down as soon as he pokes his head out of the mullock.
[Aus]Aus. Womens’ Wkly 16 Feb. 25: Low scorers may be party narks.
[Aus]R.H. Conquest Horses in Kitchen 85: I can remember a squatter’s wife who was a hoity-toity old nark.
[Aus]Hogbotel & ffuckes Snatches and Lays 6: So much which goes to make up Australia cannot be defined positively, but only in terms of opposition to the wowser, the eternal grey nark, born without balls, guts or gullet, slimy and sanctimonious.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett You Wouldn’t Be Dead for Quids (1989) 84: Not that Norton was a nark when it came to music.
[Aus]R. Beckett Dinkum Aussie Dict. 37: Nark: A wet blanket. Someone who knocks or criticises [...] In a secondary sense it also means one who constantly criticises but is not prepared to lend a hand to put things to rights.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett White Shoes 65: Yeah, you’re right, boss, I shouldn’t be such a nark.
[US]College Sl. Research Project (Cal. State Poly. Uni., Pomona) [Internet] Nark (noun) A stupid person, an idiot.
[UK]K. Sampson Outlaws (ms.) 46: Half a nark she is, to be fair. Everything has to be turned into a fight.

5. a police officer.

[UK]F.W. Carew Autobiog. of a Gipsey 434: Then the narks ’d be turnin’ everythink hupside down to find us.
[UK]Marvel III:58 21: Pardon me, not nark, but detective – of Scotland Yard.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Aug. 15/1: [cartoon caption] I ain’t leaving this nark behind as I orter. I’ll ’ave to give up smokin’.
[UK]R. Llewellyn None But the Lonely Heart 251: That’s just in case somebody’s left any funny things behind for the narks.
[UK]A. Sillitoe ‘Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner’ Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (1960) 24: Don’t let the gate creak too much or you’ll have the narks tuning-in.
[US]N. Pileggi Wiseguy (2001) 207: Most wiseguys the narks had followed always remained within their own ranks at all times.

6. (mainly Aus.) spite, rancour, umbrage; a grudge.

[Aus]‘G.G.’ Sporting Sketches in Sportsman (Melbourne) (18/10/1898) 5/8: ‘Two “splits” who ’ad a nark agen Pinky and they sez [...] “We won’t have bad characters like you bettin’ ’ere”’’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 27 Apr. 2/2: All the confiding simplicity that brought the first two quid to light was gone, and ‘nark’ was trumps.
[Aus]E. Dyson Fact’ry ’Ands 117: They thort his jills had done er get [...] ’n’ Hoggy was n’t goin’ t’ get er charnce t’ show his nark.
[Aus]E. Dyson ‘Sister Ann’ in ‘Hello, Soldier!’ 27: She / Come with the chemist’s swill, / ’N’ puts a kind, soft ’and on mine, ’n’ all my nark is still. [Ibid.] 47: ‘Joey’s Job’ Then came the universal nark. The Kaiser let her rip. / They cleared the ring. The scrap was for the whole world’s championship.
[Aus]N. Lindsay Age Of Consent 210: She’ll put the police on me out of nark.
[Aus]‘Miles Franklin’ My Career Goes Bung 56: And crikey, if it doesn’t get people’s nark up, I’m a goanna with two tails.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 212: I had a nark on Miss Clouston and I went looking for her.

7. any annoying or disagreeable situation.

[Aus]‘Steele Rudd’ Book of Dan 7: ‘That’s a nark!’ the engine-driver said, with a pathetic look at his employer.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘The Intro’ in Songs of a Sentimental Bloke 22: I reckerlect I arst ter be ’er friend; / An’ tried ter play at ’andies in the park, / A thing she wouldn’t sight. Aw, it’s a nark!

8. (UK tramp) a beggar who works part-time and lives permanently in a common lodging house, thus having a privileged relationship with the owner.

[UK]W.H. Davies Adventures of Johnny Walker 124: These three men were ‘narks’. In other words they were town beggars: men that had lost their homes and had to take refuge in a common lodging-house [...] The ‘nark’ is either a catttle-drover, a small hawker, a mechanic that only has a couple of days’ work a week. [...] All true wanderers hate him. [Ibid.] 126: The worst charge to make against a ‘nark’ is that he is a spy and a tell-tale, and that he lets the lodging-house keeper know all the transactions in the kitchen.

9. one who reports to the authorities, a telltale.

[Aus]Truth (Melbourne) 3 Jan. 6/5: Neurotic ‘narks’ [...] bring unfounded charges against innocent men.
[Aus]Mirror (Perth) 6 Nov. 12/1: The husband had declined to play nark.
[UK]‘George Orwell’ Road to Wigan Pier in Complete Works V (1986) 68: The woman was slightly deaf and took me for a Means Test nark.
[Aus]D. Niland Call Me When the Cross Turns Over (1958) 104: Some nark complained and a copper come along and made Smith go out and wash it off.
[US]N.Y. Times Mag. 23 July 22: An old slang term, narc, has been revived for tattletale [HDAS].
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar. 7: nark – informer: That nark told the teacher that I skipped class.

10. an agent, a go-between.

[US]H.S. Thompson Hell’s Angels (1967) 48: They issued statements to the Press, appeared at various rallies and bargained with Hollywood narks and magazine editors. [Ibid.] 63: What they needed was a good agent or a money-mad nark.

11. see narc n. (2)

In phrases

get one’s/the nark (up) (v.)

(Aus.) to become angry.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 16 June 15/2: A rather brutal yarn about a ‘skin’ and a ‘blasted ass’ and a cove who ‘got the nark’ and a bloke who ‘flew into a stink.’ [Ibid.] 17 Nov. 11/1: O well, don’t get the nark, ’Tilda, old gel. Yer know wot they says, ‘Be virtuous and yerl be ’appy.’.
[Aus]Punch (Melbourne) 27 Sept. 4/1: It got their nark up w’en they sor us drivin’ up there aile in kerridges. Tried ter sling orf ’cos we wos a bit flash .
give the nark (v.)

(Aus.) of individuals, to anger, to annoy; of objects to ruin to put out of order.

[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 28 Oct. 1/2: But someone copped ‘is arm in time, / And gives the bloomin’ go the nark, / Just as the fun was gettin’ prime.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 21 Dec. 13/2: A Push Idyll – Faithless Woman. / ‘Ain’t seen yer about with Emma lately.’ / ‘Naw; she gave me the nark.’ / ‘Another bloke?’ / ‘Naw; chucked-up her jam-factory job.’.
have a nark on (v.)

(Aus.) to dislike.

[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 2 June 4/8: Comin’ over I fell in with Melbourne blokes, / An’ ain’t they got a nark on Groperland.
[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 20 Aug. 11/2: Slanguage [...] Cross out the incorrect: word or phrase in the following sentences: [...] ‘Queen Elizabeth had 'Essex, in the gun (had a nark on ’im)’.