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
  5. (US) A sneaker; a tennis shoe.
    • 2014, Faye McKnight, Goodnight, Bob (page 9)
      We would have been laughed off the street in Philadelphia if we were seen wearing sneaks. In the big city, the young population wore loafers or boots.

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 occasionally found in British and Australian/Hiberno-English, too, though regarded as an American form. (See Oxford Dictionaries, 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]