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For other uses, see Carny (disambiguation) and Carney.
For the 2010 film, see Carnies (film).
A carny and his coconut shy, 2005

Carny or carnie is a slang term used in North America for a carnival employee, and the language they use, particularly when the employee runs a "joint" (booth) (i.e. a "jointie), "grab joint" (food stand) (also a "jointie"), game, or ride (i.e. a "ride jock" or "ride operator") at a carnival, boardwalk or amusement park. The term "showie" is used synonymously in Australia.


Carny is thought to have become popularized around 1931 in North America, when it was first colloquially used to describe one who works at a carnival.[1] The word carnival, originally meaning a "time of merrymaking before Lent," came into use circa 1549.

Carny language[edit]

See also: Parlyaree

The carny vocabulary is traditionally part of carnival cant, a secret language. It is an ever-changing form of communication, in large part designed to be impossible to understand by an outsider.[2] As words are assimilated into the culture at large, they lose their function and are replaced by more obscure or insular terms.[citation needed] Most carnies no longer use cant, but many owners/operators and "old-timers" still use some of the classic terms.

In addition to carny jargon, some carnival workers used a special infix ("earz" or "eez" or "iz") to render regular language unintelligible to outsiders. This style eventually migrated into wrestling, hip hop, and other parts of modern culture.[3]

The British form of fairground cant is called "Parlyaree".

Usage in popular culture[edit]


See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

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