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90s Slang You Should Know


or carney

[kahr-nee] /ˈkɑr ni/ Informal.
noun, plural carnies.
a person employed by a carnival.
carnival (def 1).
of or relating to carnivals:
carny slang.
Origin of carny
First recorded in 1930-35; carn(ival) + -y2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for carny
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Some people never really adjusted to carny life—where everybody knows everything.

    Charley de Milo Laurence Mark Janifer AKA Larry M. Harris
  • Castle of carny, in the parish of Moonzie, in the shire of Fife.

  • He felt like doing a carny barker spiel, Step right up, step right up, this way to the great egress!

    Makers Cory Doctorow
  • He was an Armless Wonder, a born freak, the top of the carny ladder, with a good job wherever he cared to look for one.

    Charley de Milo Laurence Mark Janifer AKA Larry M. Harris
  • It was much more like a carny haunted house trade-show floor now.

    Makers Cory Doctorow
British Dictionary definitions for carny


verb -nies, -nying, -nied, -neys, -neying, -neyed
(Brit, informal) to coax or cajole or act in a wheedling manner
Word Origin
C19: of unknown origin


noun (US & Canadian, slang) (pl) -nies
short for carnival
a person who works in a carnival
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for carny

1931, U.S. slang, short for carnival worker (see carnival).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for carny



: carny talk/ a carney family


  1. A carnival
  2. A carnival worker or member of such a worker's family: outdoor show people, the ''carnies,'' who travel from town to town with carnivals
  3. The occupational idiom or jargon of carnival people: I thought you talked carney by now (1930s+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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