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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English, from Middle Dutch snuffen (to snuff), of imitative origin. The noun is probably from Dutch snuf (snuff), an abbreviation of snuftabak, snuiftabak (snuff). Related to sniff (compare Dutch snuffen (snuff), German schnupf (snuff), French schnouff (junk).


snuff (countable and uncountable, plural snuffs)

  1. Finely ground or pulverized tobacco intended for use by being sniffed or snorted into the nose.
  2. Fine-ground or minced tobacco, dry or moistened, intended for use by placing a pinch behind the lip or beneath the tongue; see also snus.
  3. A snort or sniff of fine-ground, powdered, or pulverized tobacco.
  4. The act of briskly inhaling by the nose; a sniff, a snort.
  5. Resentment or skepticism expressed by quickly drawing air through the nose; snuffling; sniffling.
  6. (obsolete) Snot, mucus.
  7. (obsolete) Smell, scent, odour.
Derived terms[edit]


snuff (third-person singular simple present snuffs, present participle snuffing, simple past and past participle snuffed)

  1. To inhale through the nose.
  2. To turn up the nose and inhale air, as an expression of contempt; hence, to take offence.
    • Bishop Hall
      Do the enemies of the church rage and snuff?

Etymology 2[edit]

Origin uncertain. Akin to Dutch sneuvelen (to die in battle).


snuff (uncountable)

  1. The burning part of a candle wick, or the black, burnt remains of a wick (which has to be periodically removed).
    • 1621, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy, Oxford: Printed by Iohn Lichfield and Iames Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 216894069; The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd corrected and augmented edition, Oxford: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, 1624, OCLC 54573970, (please specify |partition=1, 2, or 3):
      , II.3.3:
      his memory stinks like the snuff of a candle when it is put out []
    • Jonathan Swift
      If the burning snuff happens to get out of the snuffers, you have a chance that it may fall into a dish of soup.
  2. (obsolete) Leavings in a glass after drinking; heeltaps.
  3. (slang) A murder.
    • 2004, David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
      The cops are chasing their own asses on the St Christopher case, so how about a “Are You St Christopher's Next Slaying?” piece? Profiles of all the snuffs to date and reconstructions of the victims' last minutes.
  4. (attributive) A form of pornographic film which involves someone actually being murdered.
Derived terms[edit]


snuff (third-person singular simple present snuffs, present participle snuffing, simple past and past participle snuffed)

  1. To extinguish a candle or oil-lamp flame by covering the burning end of the wick until the flame is suffocated.
  2. (obsolete) To trim the burnt part of a candle wick.
    • 1817, Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, [2]:
      The dimness of the light her candle emitted made her turn to it in alarm; but there was no danger of its sudden extinction, it had yet some hours to burn; and that she might not have any greater difficulty in distinguishing the writing than what its ancient date might occasion, she hastily snuffed it. Alas! it was snuffed and extinguished in one.
  3. (slang) To kill a person; to snuff out.
Derived terms[edit]



snuff m (plural snuffs)

  1. snuff (film of death)