Someone commented—directly, not in the blog—about my presumptive take on the key identity of snark as a contraction of snide remark in my previous post. Since I do have the bad habit of firing something off the top of my head and then going back to do more research afterward, I thought it best to clarify my intent here, where my presumptuousness reared its ugly head in the first place.

The word is used in a variety of ways, and has, of course, a history that considerably predates any recent slang adaptation. Aside from the familiar Lewis Carroll animal, it has been—and no doubt is—the name of many boats, probably the most famous being Jack London's oceangoing home in the early 1900s. According to
Wikipedia's snark entries, it's also a graph, an IT term, the name of various fictional characters or species, and at one time a diving regulator, a computer game, and even an ICBM.

The derivative snarky makes an appearance in the fourth edition of 
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, where it's defined as a slang adjective meaning irritable, or irascible. It comes from snark, snork, snore and snort, derived from the Dutch and Low German word snorken. Last time I checked, the folks at Oxford English Dictionary Online were adding new words to the p section, so if indeed there's going to be any reference to a snide remark contraction during the current update cycle, it's still waiting in line.

Anyway, when I wrote that snark is more than just a popular slang expression for its own sake, it was with the idea that, should the word make it into the authoritative dictionaries, it may have more to do with the word's identity as a contraction than with simple appropriation by slangsters. But we shall see.  


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