sneak

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Possibly from Middle English sniken (to creep, crawl), though the OED doubts this, or from Old English snīcan (to desire, reach for sneakily), from Proto-Germanic *snīkaną, which is related to the root of snake.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

sneak (plural sneaks)

  1. One who sneaks; one who moves stealthily to acquire an item or information.
    My little brother is such a sneak - yesterday I caught him trying to look through my diary.
  2. A cheat; a con artist; a trickster
    I can't believe I gave that sneak $50 for a ticket when they were selling for $20 at the front gate.
  3. An informer; a tell-tale.
  4. (obsolete, cricket) A ball bowled so as to roll along the ground; a daisy-cutter

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Verb[edit]

sneak (third-person singular simple present sneaks, present participle sneaking, simple past and past participle sneaked or snuck)

  1. (intransitive) To creep or go stealthily; to come or go while trying to avoid detection, as a person who does not wish to be seen.
    He decided to sneak into the kitchen for a second cookie while his mom was on the phone.
  2. (transitive) To take something stealthily without permission.
    I went to sneak a chocolate but my dad caught me.
  3. (transitive, dated) To hide, especially in a mean or cowardly manner.
    • Wake
      [Slander] sneaks its head.
  4. (intransitive) (informal, especially with on) To inform an authority about another's misdemeanours; to tell tales; to grass.
    If you sneak on me I'll bash you!

Usage notes[edit]

  • The past and past participle snuck is primarily found in North American English, where it originated in the late 19th century as a dialectal form. It is still regarded as informal by some, but its use appears to be increasing in frequency and acceptability. It is sometimes found in British and Australian/Hiberno-English, too. (See The Cambridge Guide to English Usage, Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, Webster's New World College Dictionary.)
  • To sneak (take) something is not the same as to steal something. In this sense, sneak typically implies trying to avoid a supervisor's or guardian's mild displeasure or mild discipline, while steal indicates a more serious action and often the person stealing does not know the owner of the item being stolen.

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Adjective[edit]

sneak (not comparable)

  1. In advance; before release to the general public.
    The company gave us a sneak look at their new electronic devices.
  2. In a stealthy or surreptitious manner.
    I was able to get a sneak peek at the guest list.

Derived terms[edit]

Anagrams[edit]