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See also: snäpper and Snapper


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Etymology 1[edit]

snap +‎ -er.

Alternative forms[edit]



snapper (plural snappers)

  1. One who, or that which, snaps.
    a snapper-up of bargains
    the snapper of a whip
  2. Any of approximately 100 different species of fish.
    1. (Australia, New Zealand) The fish Chrysophrys auratus, especially an adult of the species.
      • 1971, Harry Robertson, “Ballina Whalers” (lyrics):
        Heigh-ho ye trawler men come on, forget the snapper and the prawn,
        And it’s out of Ballina we’ll sail, a-fishing for the Humpback whale.
    2. (US) Any of the family Lutjanidae of percoid fishes, especially the red snapper.
    3. (US) A small bluefish.
  3. (Ireland, slang) A (human) baby.
  4. (American football) The player who snaps the ball to start the play.
  5. (US) Small, paper-wrapped item containing a minute quantity of explosive composition coated on small bits of sand, which explodes noisily when thrown onto a hard surface.
  6. (slang) One who takes snaps; a photographer.
    • 2022, Liam McIlvanney, The Heretic, page 22:
      The police snapper was on his tiptoes, angling for a vertical shot of the body.
  7. (US, informal) The snapping turtle.
  8. The green woodpecker, or yaffle (Picus viridis).
  9. A snap beetle (family Elateridae).
  10. (historical) A telegraphic device with a flexible metal tongue for producing clicks like those of the sounder.
  11. (obsolete) A percussive musical instrument consisting of a pair of items to be snapped together; castanet or bones.
  12. (US, colloquial) A string bean.
  13. (slang) The vulva.
    • 2004, Mary B. Morrison, Never Again Once More:
      At thirty-nine, her snapper was snapping at practically every man that appeared halfway decent and had a pulse.
    • 2010, Phil Torcivia, Nice Meeting You:
      Then, get this, when we finished, she grabbed what looked like one of her husband's T-shirts, wiped her snapper, threw it into the back, []
  14. (slang, entertainment) A punchline.
    • 1976, Larry Wilde, How the Great Comedy Writers Create Laughter, page 101:
      I don't want a pause before the snapper.
    • 2011, Judy Kerr, Acting is Everything:
      The end should always be a “snapper.” The punchline of a monologue is extremely important. Find a good one.
    • 2018, Michelle Ann Abate, Funny Girls, page 55:
      In fact, he began the comic by coming up with the final panel, which he called “the snapper,” and worked backward.
  15. (US politics, historical) A supporter of Senator Hill's premature scheduling of the Democratic National Committee convention of 1892.
    Antonym: anti-snapper
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English snaperen, likely formed with the frequentative suffix -eren (Modern English -er). For the stem compare Norwegian Nynorsk snåva (to stumble), Swedish snäva (to stumble), obsolete German schnappen (to totter, to limp), Middle High German snaben, Middle Low German snaven (to stumble).


snapper (third-person singular simple present snappers, present participle snappering, simple past and past participle snappered) (obsolete outside Northern England and Scotland)

  1. To stumble, to trip.
  2. (figuratively) To fall into error; to make a mistake, and especially to stumble morally.
    • c. 1503–1512, John Skelton, Ware the Hauke; republished in John Scattergood, editor, John Skelton: The Complete English Poems, 1983, →OCLC, page 65, lines 141–143:
      A curate in specyall
      To snappar and to fall
      Into this opyn cryme


snapper (plural snappers) (chiefly Scotland)

  1. A stumble, a trip.
  2. An error, a blunder, especially a moral slip-up.


  1. ^ 1990, Richard Allan, Australian Fish and How to Catch Them, →ISBN, page 309.
  2. ^ “Snapper”, entry in 1966, An Encyclopedia of New Zealand.