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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English snell ‎(quick, fast) from Old English snel, snell ‎(lively, quick) from Proto-Germanic *snellaz ‎(active, swift, brisk). Akin to Old Saxon snel, snell ‎(active, strenuous), Dutch snel, Old High German snel (whence German schnell ‎(quick, swift), Italian snello ‎(quick, nimble), Old French esnel, isnel ‎(snell), and Occitan isnel, irnel ‎(snell)), Old Norse snjallr ‎(skilful, excellent) (whence Danish snild ‎(clever)).


snell ‎(comparative sneller, superlative snellest)

(chiefly Scottish)

  1. Active, brisk or nimble; lively.
    He is a remarkably snell young lad.
  2. Quick, sudden; sharp.
    That horny-handed, snell, peremptory little man. --Dr. J. Brown.
  3. Quick-witted; witty.
  4. Harsh; severe.

Etymology 2[edit]

Origin Unknown.


snell ‎(plural snells)

  1. A short line of horsehair, gut, monofilament, etc., by which a fishhook or lure is attached to a longer (and usually heavier) line.
    • 1979, Cormac McCarthy, Suttree, Random House, p.194:
      He tied on new baited snells and recovered the current with the oars.
Related terms[edit]


snell ‎(third-person singular simple present snells, present participle snelling, simple past and past participle snelled)

  1. To tie a hook to the end of a fishing line with a snell knot.
    Can you show me how to snell a hook?