Today's Callan

Nosey Parker

someone who puts his nose into other people’s business or private lives.

usybody, meddler

He’s a real old nosey parker, always putting his nose into other people’s business.

Conversation 1

A: How was your date last night?

B: It was great.

A: So come on, what happened, tell me everything.

B: No, I don’t want to.

A: Why not? Come on I want to know.

A: Don’t be such a nosey parker!!!

(This sentence could also be…)

A: Don’t be so nosey.

Conversation 2

A: I’m sick of living with my landlord.

B: Why?

A: He is always asking about what I am doing, where I am going, what time I am going to come home, it is like living with my mother!!

B: He sounds like a right nosey parker.  (He sounds really nosey)

A: He is, what can I do about it?

B: Tell him to mind his own business.

The origin of this idiom is unclear, nobody seems to know where it comes from, there are a couple of ideas floating around on the internet.

The first is that it was based upon a 15 century Catholic Archbishop, but that sounds a bit dodgy because the first time the expression appeared in print was in 1907.

The most convincing explanation comes from the great exhibition in Hyde park in London in 1851, great numbers of people came to see the exhibition, which was a kind of world fair exhibiting the latest in science, technology and art from around the world.

Because many people stayed in the park when they came to see the exhibition, it is thought that the parkers (the people who looked after the park) used to spy on people doing what they were doing (probably having sex!!!) hence the term nosey parker.

In the 1960’s the term was used again for the character of Parker in the TV show Thunderbirds, which was very popular, and has remained popular.  Thunderbirds was made into a Hollywood movie in 2004

Nowadays, many people don’t use the full name ‘nosey parker’ which is why I gave alternative answers above.  The expression ‘nosey’ is still very common.  However ‘nosey parker’ as an idiom is still very much alive, there is even a I phone app which is called nosey parker 
“Nosey Parker is an iPhone app for UK drivers that find the nearest, cheapest or safest car park.” So there you go, nobody knows why exactly!!! 

(Callan book stage 8, 727p)

TOEIC Public Test Centre

Next test date:

back to top of page