narc / nark

Surprisingly, the word nark did not get its start as a clipped form of narcotics officer. The term, in the sense of a police informer, dates to the mid-19th century. With the advent of police narcotics divisions, officers, and agents in the 1960s, the influence of the word narcotics gave rise to the narc spelling and narrowed the sense to mean a police officer who investigates drug offenses.

The word nark first appears in the 1846 edition of Swell’s Night Guide, meaning an unpleasant person:

They are the rankest narks vot ever God put guts into, or ever farted in a kickses case.

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