or car·ney


noun, plural car·nies.

a person employed by a carnival.


of or relating to carnivals: carny slang.

Origin of carny

First recorded in 1930–35; carn(ival) + -y2 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for carny

Contemporary Examples of carny

  • The freaks are cooking the books, and the carny world turns into a funhouse mirror of the allegedly real one.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Most Underrated Novels I’ve Edited

    Daniel Menaker

    November 19, 2013

  • A Florida native, Russell ably captures her state's wonky blend of natural beauty and carny effects.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Great Weekend Reads

    The Daily Beast

    February 12, 2011

Historical Examples of carny

  • Castle of Carny, in the parish of Moonzie, in the shire of Fife.

  • 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

  • Some people never really adjusted to carny life—where everybody knows everything.

    Charley de Milo

    Laurence Mark Janifer AKA Larry M. Harris

  • It was much more like a carny haunted house trade-show floor now.


    Cory Doctorow

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


    Cory Doctorow

British Dictionary definitions for carny




verb -nies, -nying, -nied, -neys, -neying or -neyed

British informal to coax or cajole or act in a wheedling manner

Word Origin for carny

C19: of unknown origin



carney or carnie

noun plural -nies US and Canadian slang

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

Word Origin and History for carny

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper