T-learning # Idiom
Speak Like a Native

a nosey parker

Click below to listen to the phrase.

Choose the correct definition a, b or c.

a) someone who has a flair for business

Sorry, wrong answer. Please try again.

b) someone who has a big nose

Sorry, wrong answer. Please try again.

c) a person who meddles in the affairs of others

Well done ! That’s the right answer.

A nosy Parker sometimes spelled nosey Parker is a persistently nosy, overly inquisitive or prying-natured person ; a busybody.


The person most often associated with the phrase ’nosy parker’ is Matthew Parker, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1559 to 1575. In a systematic attempt to obtain a detailed account of the qualifications and activities of the clergy he ordered several unpopular inquiries. This, and the good archbishop’s impressively prominent nose, might be thought more than enough for his peers to have nicknamed him ’nosy Parker’.

This explanation is however controversial. Before ’nosy parker’ was coined, a ’parker’ was simply a park-keeper. The opportunities for park-keepers to spy on courting couples were no doubt ample and there has been some speculation - by the lexicographer Eric Partridge and others - that this may be the source of the term.

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.

French translation

un fouineur, un petit curieux

How NOT to translate

*un gardien de parking à long nez


Examples in context

‘In Therapy : a goldmine for nosy parkers

Susie Orbach’s stories from the couch are warm, revealing and irresistible for anyone who hates minding their own business.

Unless you’re spectacularly keen on minding your own business, Radio 4’s In Therapy is a goldmine. Psychotherapist Susie Orbach lets listeners eavesdrop on private conversations with her patients in riveting 15-minute sessions.
Of course, the clients aren’t real. They are played by actors who have been given a back-story so they can improvise scenes on the couch. And they do it so well it’s easy to get lost in all their quirks and confessions.

The Guardian, 18 Feb. 2016


‘We were never a nation of sneaks and nosy parkers

Whatever one may say about Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools, he is never short of bright ideas. His current scheme, unveiled to a mostly disbelieving public last week, concerned the perennial problem of bad parenting. According to Sir Michael, headteachers and social workers should not shrink from informing certain fathers and mothers that they are “bad parents”.

In addition, he suggested that neighbours of those suspected of turning a blind eye to their children’s absence from school should be offered financial incentives to go round to their homes to insist that the rule of law was enforced.

Needless to say, this well-meaning intervention, conceived with the aim of bringing “help” to the needy, inspired one or two commentators to propose that Sir Michael was not, to use that great modern cliché, living in the real world. There was a hint that he had broken two of the great unwritten laws of our national life : the intense and universal dislike of the “nosy parker”, and that sempiternal proscription on “telling other people how to bring up their kids”.’

The Independent, 26 January 2014


Everyday usage

I caught that nosey parker reading my diary.

This legislation is aimed primarily at those nosey-parker employers who are now routinely, as I understand it, monitoring their staffs’ e-mails to make sure they are on the job and not wasting time.

Missed last week’s phrase ? Catch up here