Carny or carnie is a slang term used in North America and, along with showie, in Australia for a carnival (funfair) employee, as well as the language they employ. A "carny" is anyone who runs a "joint" (booth), "grab joint" (food stand), game, or ride at a carnival, boardwalk or amusement park.
The word 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." The word carnival, originally meaning a "time of merrymaking before Lent," came into use circa 1549.
Carny language 
The carny vocabulary is traditionally part of carnival cant, a secret language, and is an ever-changing form of communication, in large part designed to be impossible to understand by an outsider. Thus, as words are assimilated into the culture at large, they lose their function and are replaced by other more obscure or insular terms. Most carnies no longer use cant. However, many owners/operators and "old-timers" still use some of the classic terms.
The British form of fairground cant is called "Parlyaree".
Usage in popular culture 
- The fourth season of Heroes features several characters that live and work in a traveling carnival.
- The titular main character of the CBS crime drama The Mentalist is a former carny.
- Carny is a 1980 movie directed by Robert Kaylor and starring Gary Busey, Jodie Foster, Robbie Robertson, and Meg Foster. The film has become a cult favorite.
- Carny is a psychedelic blues band from Austin, Texas formed in 2005 featuring Paul Leary, guitarist of Butthole Surfers and producer of Sublime, Meat Puppets, Reverend Horton Heat, also featuring drummer Sam McCandless from the band Cold. Singer-songwriter Formica Iglesia, on vocals, fronts the band.
- Carnies is a 2007 movie directed by Brian Corder and starring Chris Staviski, Doug Jones, Reggie Bannister, and Lee Perkins.
- Much of the fiction of pulp writer Fredric Brown features carnies and touches on carnival life, in particular the Ed and Am Hunter mysteries, beginning with The Fabulous Clipjoint in 1947.
- Nightmare Alley is a 1947 movie starring Tyrone Power and directed by Edmund Goulding, adapted from the novel of the same name by William Lindsay Gresham, which chronicles the rise and fall of a carny con man.
- In Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, the protagonist Michael spends some time living with carnies.
- In Theodore Sturgeon's novel The Dreaming Jewels, the hero flees with carnies to escape a brutal father. The head carny collects unusual people because he has discovered strange jewels that create people as works of art. Sturgeon himself worked as a carny for a time.
- Barry Longyear's Circus World books Circus World, City of Baraboo and Elephant Song are science fiction the premise of which is a planet populated by the descendants of a crashed space-going circus, with preserved and evolved carny culture elements including performance as a means of barter.
- In the 1988 movie Two Moon Junction, Richard Tyson plays a carny who falls in love with a rich, southern socialite (Sherilyn Fenn).
- In the The Simpsons episode "Bart Carny", Bart Simpson and Homer Simpson are forced to work as carnies after Bart destroys Hitler's car. After failing to bribe Police Chief Chief Wiggum, the ring toss game that they are fraudulently running is shut down. Throughout the episode, various carny jargon is used. One of the carnies is voiced by Jim Varney.
- "The Carny" is also a song from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on the album Your Funeral... My Trial.
- The Joni Mitchell song "That Song About The Midway" depicted the singer falling in love with a carny and following the show from town to town.
- Carnival Games (known in Europe as Carnival: Funfair Games) is a video game made for the NintendoWii and Nintendo DS featuring a carny who helps to present and explain gameplay.
- Many Carny words are still used by professional wrestlers today, e.g. mark, work, snozz, et al. Pro wrestling originated in the carnivals of the 19th and early 20th century where wrestlers not wanting to face regular injury and wanting to make bouts more entertaining would 'stage' their fights. Carny language was used to disguise the staged nature of the bouts with all involved keeping "kayfabe" or protecting the secret.
- The song "Carnies" appears on Rush's 2012 release Clockwork Angels.
See also 
- "Definition of carny". Merriam-Webster Online. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
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- US. "CARNY | Gratis muziek, tourneedata, foto's, video's". Myspace.com. Retrieved 2013-01-06.
- US. "Butthole Surfers | Gratis muziek, tourneedata, foto's, video's". Myspace.com. Retrieved 2013-01-06.
Further reading 
- Lewis, Arthur H. (1970). Carnival. New York: Trident Press. The author traveled with several U.S. carnivals and gained the confidence of many carnies.