The Grammarphobia Blog

A snark in the grass

Q: I’m hearing the expression “snarkfest” used all over the place, even by Brian Lehrer. What does it actually mean?

A: The term “snarkfest” hasn’t made it into the three dictionaries I consult the most: the Oxford English Dictionary, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.), and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.). But that doesn’t mean it won’t get there one of these days. I had 25,000 hits when I googled “snarkfest,” so the word is getting around.

The online Urban Dictionary, whose users define slang terms, suggests that a “snarkfest” is a nasty affair in which bloggers may be set up to be attacked as liars. But the FAQ of Snarkfest 3.0, an online forum, says: “Don’t personally attack other posters.” H-m-m. This is a word that’s still baking in the oven.

Earlier this year, The Grammarphobia Blog had an item on the origins of “snarky,” which means snide or sarcastic or snotty. (No, it doesn’t come from Lewis Carroll’s poem The Hunting of the Snark.)

It would seem that a “snarkfest” (and here language is evolving before our very eyes) is an extended session of snarky exchanges. In other words, a feeding frenzy of snarkiness.

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