or nark

[ nahrk ]
/ nɑrk /
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noun Slang.

a government agent or detective charged with the enforcement of laws restricting the use of narcotics.



In effect, this quiz will prove whether or not you have the skills to know the difference between “affect” and “effect.”
Question 1 of 7
The rainy weather could not ________ my elated spirits on my graduation day.

Origin of narc

1965–70, Americanism; shortening of narcotic

Definition for narc (2 of 2)


variant of narco- before a vowel: narcoma.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does narc- mean?

Narco- is a combining form used like a prefix referring to narcosis and narcotics.

Narcosis is a state of stupor or drowsiness, especially as induced by narcotics. Narcotics include drugs such as opiates, heroin, marijuana, and alcohol.

Narc- is often used in a few medical and scientific terms, including in pathology and psychiatry.

Narc- comes from the Greek nárkē, meaning “numbness, stiffness.”

Note that narc and narco are slang for a government agent or detective charged with the enforcement of laws restricting the use of narcotics.

Both narco and narc are shortened from narcotic, which as you may have guessed, also comes from the Greek nárkē. Narc is sometimes spelled as nark and, while the two terms somewhat overlap in slang sense, nark as slang for “informer” comes from a completely different origin than narcotic. Discover its surprising source at our entry for nark.

Narc- is a variant of narco-, which loses its –o– when combined with words or word elements beginning with vowels. Narco- is also used to refer to various aspects of the trade of illegal drugs trade, i.e., narcotics.

Want to know more? Read our Words That Use narco- article.

Examples of narc-

Narcosis, from the Greek nárkōsis, means “a state of stupor or drowsiness.” Understanding its components sheds on its meaning.

The first part, narc- means “stupor.” The second part of the word, -osis, is a suffix that denotes a state or condition, often a disease. So, narcosis literally translates to “a state of stupor.”

What are some words that use the combining form narc-?

What are some other forms that narc– may be commonly confused with?

The word narcissism and its related form also begin with the letters narc-. Narcissism is based on the myth of Narcissus, a self-loving character in Greek mythology whose name comes from the narcissus flower, storied to have sprung up from where he wasted away from his unsatisfied desire. Traditionally, the name of flower narcissus was taken to come from nárkē, a supposed reference to the numbing effect the flower had. The etymology of narcissus, however, is disputed today.

Break it down!

Use the meaning of narc- to answer the following: If a patient is narcose, what kind of state are they in?

British Dictionary definitions for narc

/ (nɑːk) /


US slang a narcotics agent
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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