Tuesday, April 20, 2010

British Word of the Day

nosy parker:
Informal--a nosy person; busybody
Etymology: nosy+ proper name Parker: reason for use uncert.

"Is she the lady you were dining with at the Cafe' Royale?" ..."Since you ask--yes, Miss Beckworth...Why do you ask?" "Because I'm a nosy parker!"

Of course, American speakers of English use nosy or busy-body which is fine enough, I suppose when describing someone who pokes their nose into everything. But 'nosy parker' is something more. Sadly there is no identifiable person to take credit for the 'Parker'.

It is much more likely that the expression alludes to overly inquisitive people who 'stick their noses in' other people's business. The same allusion was probably called on with the coining of the more recent and graphic New Zealand/Australian phrase with the same meaning - 'sticky beak'. Where parker comes into it is anyone's guess.

Sticky beak. Dang it. Trumped by the Kiwis!

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