Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From Middle English sniffen, of imitative origin.



sniff (third-person singular simple present sniffs, present participle sniffing, simple past and past participle sniffed)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To make a short, audible inhalation, through the nose, as when smelling something.
    The dog sniffed around the park, searching for a nice scent.
    I sniffed the meat to see whether it had gone off.
  2. To say something while sniffing, for example in case of illness or unhappiness, or in contempt.
    "He's never coming back, is he?" she sniffed while looking at a picture of him.
  3. (transitive) To perceive vaguely
    I can sniff trouble coming from the basement.
  4. To be dismissive or contemptuous of something.
    This opportunity is not to be sniffed at.
  5. (computing) To intercept and analyse packets of data being transmitted over a network.
  6. (slang, Britain) To inhale drugs in powder form (usually cocaine) through the nose.

Derived terms[edit]


  • Hebrew: הִסְנִיף(hisníf)


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 Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


sniff (countable and uncountable, plural sniffs)

  1. (countable) An instance of sniffing.
    She gave the flowers a quick sniff to check they were real.
  2. (countable) A quantity of something that is inhaled through the nose
  3. (countable, colloquial) A brief perception, or tiny amount.
    • 2011 November 3, Chris Bevan, “Rubin Kazan 1 - 0 Tottenham”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      Tottenham did have a sniff of goal when Defoe's drilled cross just eluded his strike partner at the far post but their best effort came early in the second half when Ryan Fredericks cut in from the right before firing into the side netting.
  4. (uncountable, slang) Cocaine.
    • 2008, Tammy Anderson, Neither Villain nor Victim:
      He sold us some sniff and blow.




  1. A short inhalation sound, sometimes associated with crying.

Derived terms[edit]