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    snip (v.) — sober (v.)

    snip (v.)

    "to cut at one light, quick stroke," 1590s, from snip (n.). Related: Snipped; snipping.ETD snip (v.).2

    snip (n.)

    1550s, "small piece of cloth cut off or out," probably from Dutch or Low German snippen "to snip, shred," which is of imitative origin. The meaning "a single cut made by shears or scissors" is from 1590s. Figurative of a small amount of anything from 1580s. As a nickname or cant word for a tailor, 1590s.ETD snip (n.).2

    snipe (v.)

    "shoot ar (men) one by one at long range from a hidden place," 1773 (among British soldiers in India), in reference to hunting snipe as game, from snipe (n.). Compare sniper. The figurative use is by 1892. Related: Sniped; sniping.ETD snipe (v.).2

    snipe (n.)

    a name of various small, long-billed marsh birds, early 14c., from Old Norse -snipa in myrisnipa "moor snipe;" perhaps a common Germanic term (compare Old Saxon sneppa, Middle Dutch snippe, Dutch snip, Old High German snepfa, German Schnepfe "snipe," Swedish snäppa "sandpiper"), perhaps originally "snipper" (and so called for its long, straight bill). The Old English name was snite, which is of uncertain derivation. An opprobrious term (see guttersnipe) since c. 1600.ETD snipe (n.).2

    sniper (n.)

    "concealed sharpshooter; one who shoots from a hidden place," 1824, agent noun from snipe (v.). The birds were considered a challenging target for an expert shooter:ETD sniper (n.).2

    snipper (n.)

    "one who or that which snips," 1610s, agent noun from snip (v.). Snippers (plural) "scissors" is attested from 1590s.ETD snipper (n.).2

    snippet (n.)

    "small piece snipped off," 1660s, from snip (n.) + diminutive suffix -et. Especially "short passage from a written work" (1864), originally especially in newspapers; snippety "composed of or of the nature of snippets" also is from 1864.ETD snippet (n.).2

    snippy (adj.)

    1727, "parsimonious;" 1848, "fault-finding, sharp;" 1886, "fragmentary;" from snip (n.) + -y (2). Related: Snippily; snippiness.ETD snippy (adj.).2

    snip-snap (n.)

    "smart, cutting remarks; witty repartee" is by 1727 (Pope, "Art of Sinking"), from snip (v.) + snap (v.). Marlowe in the same sense has snipper-snapper (1590s). A characteristic of 18th century heroic couplets, including Pope's. It is attested from 1670s as an adjective; 1590s as a verb, and 1580s as an adverb: "snip, snap, quick and home; it rejoiceth my intellect : true wit." ("Love's Labours Lost"). Snip-snap-snorum, the card game, is 1755, from Low German.ETD snip-snap (n.).2

    snit (n.)

    "state of inappropriate agitation, fit of childish temper," 1939, American English, of unknown origin. First in Claire Boothe's "Kiss the Boys Good-bye," which gives it a U.S. Southern context. Snitty (adj.) appears to be slightly older.ETD snit (n.).2

    It likely is unrelated to Middle English snit "glowing part of a wick after the candle has been blown out," which is related to snite.ETD snit (n.).3

    snitch (n.)

    "informer, tell-tale," 1785, of obscure origin, probably from underworld slang meaning "the nose" (1700), which apparently developed from an earlier meaning "fillip on the nose" (1670s), itself probably from one of the Germanic sn- "nose" words (see snout). Snitcher in same sense is from 1827.ETD snitch (n.).2

    snitch (v.)

    1801, "inform (on someone), reveal or give information (to)," from snitch (n.). The meaning "steal, pilfer" is attested from 1904, perhaps in this sense a variant of snatch (v.). Related: Snitched; snitching.ETD snitch (v.).2

    snite (v.)

    "to blow or wipe the nose, cast away mucus," c. 1100, sniten, now Scottish and dialectal, from Old English snytan, related to Old Norse snyta, Middle Dutch snuten, Old High German snuzen, German schneuzen "to blow one's nose," and to snot. Nose-sniting "blowing of the nose" is attested from early 15c.ETD snite (v.).2

    snivel (v.)

    Middle English, from Old English *snyflan "run at the nose" (implied in snyflung "running of the nose"), verb from snofl "nasal mucus;" see snout.ETD snivel (v.).2

    The meaning "be in an (affected) tearful state, utter hypocritical expressions of contrition or regret" is from 1680s. Related: Snivelled; sniveller; snivelling. As a noun, "nasal mucus," from mid-14c. Melville coined snivelization (1849). Middle English had contemptuous term snivelard (n.) "one who speaks with a nasal tone, whiner."ETD snivel (v.).3

    snivelling (adj.)

    "mean-spirited, weak," 1640s, present-participle adjective from snivel (v.). Earlier "congested, runny, whining" (c. 1300). Related: Snivellingly.ETD snivelling (adj.).2

    snob (n.)

    1781, "a shoemaker, a shoemaker's apprentice," a word of unknown origin. It is said to have been used in Cambridge University slang from c. 1796, often contemptuously, for "townsman, local merchant," and then passed into literary use, where by 1831 it meant "person of the ordinary or lower classes."ETD snob (n.).2

    The meaning "person who vulgarly apes his social superiors" is by 1843, popularized 1848 by William Thackeray's "Book of Snobs." The meaning later broadened to include those who insist on their gentility, in addition to those who merely aspire to it, and by 1911 the word had its sense of "one who despises those who are considered inferior in rank, attainment, or taste" [OED], which reverses the sense of a century before. Inverted snob is from 1909:ETD snob (n.).3

    snobbery (n.)

    "the class of snobs; characteristics or conduct of snobs," 1833, from snob + -ery. Snobdom is attested from 1846. Snobbism "state of being a snob" is from 1843.ETD snobbery (n.).2

    snobby (adj.)

    "partaking of the character of a snob or snobs," 1835, from snob + -y (2). Related: Snobbiness.ETD snobby (adj.).2

    snobbish (adj.)

    1840, "of or pertaining to snobs," from snob + -ish. The meaning "with the character of a snob" is from 1849. Related: Snobbishly; snobbishness.ETD snobbish (adj.).2

    snobocracy (n.)

    "snobs collectively," especially as exercising social influence of power, 1838, from snob + -ocracy.ETD snobocracy (n.).2

    snog (v.)

    "to flirt, cuddle," 1945, British English slang, of unknown origin, perhaps a back-formation from snogging. Related: Snogged.ETD snog (v.).2

    snogging (n.)

    "kissing and cuddling," British English slang, 1945, of unknown origin, said to have originated in British India.ETD snogging (n.).2


    1846, snolly goster, "shrewd, unprincipled person," American English slang, perhaps a fanciful coinage. Of uncertain connection to snallygaster, a mythical monster of Maryland, U.S., which is said to be from German schnelle geister "quick spirits."ETD snollygoster.2

    snood (n.)

    Middle English snod (plural snoden), from Old English snod "ribbon for the hair," from Proto-Germanic *snodo (source also of Swedish snod "string, cord"), from PIE root *(s)ne- "to spin, sew" (source also of Lettish snate "a linen cover," Old Irish snathe "thread;" see needle (n.)).ETD snood (n.).2

    In the Middle Ages it typically was worn by young unmarried girls, hence "held to be emblematic of maidenhood or virginity" [Century Dictionary]. The modern fashion use for "bag-like hair net" is by 1938 (such nets also were worn in the Middle Ages, but they are not snoods properly).ETD snood (n.).3

    snook (n.)

    "derisive gesture," 1791, of unknown origin.ETD snook (n.).2

    snooker (v.)

    "to put in an impossible position, to balk (someone)," by 1915 in a general sense, from a specific use attested by 1889 in the billiard-table game of snooker (n.):ETD snooker (v.).2

    Related: Snookered; snookering.ETD snooker (v.).3

    snooker (n.)

    billiard-table game, 1889, the game and the word said in an oft-told story to have been invented in India by British officers as a diversion from billiards. The name is perhaps a reference (with regard to the rawness of play by a fellow officer) to British slang snooker "newly joined cadet, first-term student at the R.M. Academy" (1872). Tradition ascribes the coinage to Col. Sir Neville Chamberlain (1866-1944), not to be confused with the prime minister, at the time subaltern in the Devonshire Regiment in Jubbulpore.ETD snooker (n.).2

    One of the first descriptions of the game is in A.W. Drayson's "The Art of Practical Billiards for Amateurs" (1889), which states in a footnote "The rules of the game of snooker are the copyright of Messrs. Burroughes & Watts [manufacturers of billiard tables], from whom they may be obtained."ETD snooker (n.).3

    snookums (n.)

    trivial term of endearment, by 1910, from the name of the baby added in 1907 to the popular "New York World" comic strip "The Newlyweds" by U.S. cartoonist George McManus.ETD snookums (n.).2

    The name is perhaps from Snooks, proper name used in British slang for a hypothetical person (1860; compare Joe Blow in U.S.). As an actual proper name, Snooks dates back to the Domesday Book and may be from Old English *snoc "projecting point of land" (perhaps here with sense of "big nose").ETD snookums (n.).3

    snoop (v.)

    1832, "go around in a prying manner," American English, probably from Dutch snoepen "to pry," also "eat in secret, eat sweets, sneak," which is probably related to snappen "to bite, snatch" (see snap (v.)). The specific meaning "to pry into other people's business" is attested by 1921. Related: Snooped; snooping.ETD snoop (v.).2

    snoop (n.)

    1891, "act of snooping," from snoop (v.). The U.S. colloquial meaning "one who snoops" is by 1902; the sense of "detective" is from 1942. Snooper "one who pries or peeps" is from 1889.ETD snoop (n.).2

    snoopy (adj.)

    "inquisitive, excessively prying," by 1895, from snoop (n.) + -y (2). The cartoon dog of that name is from the syndicated newspaper comic strip that came to be called "Peanuts," in which he debuted for a national audience on Oct. 4, 1950.ETD snoopy (adj.).2

    snoot (n.)

    "the nose," 1861, originally a Scottish English variant of snout.ETD snoot (n.).2

    snootful (n.)

    "as much (liquor) as one can take," 1885, from snoot (n.) + -ful.ETD snootful (n.).2

    snooty (adj.)

    "proud, arrogant," 1918 (it was noticed that year as among the college slang), from snoot (n.) + -y (2). Perhaps with echoes of snouty "insolent, overbearing" (1858). The notion is perhaps "looking down one's nose" (at someone or something). Related: Snootily; snootiness.ETD snooty (adj.).2

    snooze (v.)

    "to slumber, take a short nap," by 1780, a cant word, of unknown origin, perhaps echoic of a snore. Related: Snoozed; snoozing. The noun meaning "a short nap" is from 1793. Snoozy "sleepy, slumberous" is by 1877. Snooze-alarm is from 1965.ETD snooze (v.).2

    snore (v.)

    c. 1400, snoren, originally of horses, mid-15c. of persons, "breathe in sleep with a rough, hoarse noise," probably related to snort (v.) and both probably ultimately imitative (compare Dutch snorken, Middle High German snarchen, German schnarchen, Swedish snarka; and see snout). Related: Snored; snoring.ETD snore (v.).2

    snore (n.)

    mid-14c., "a snort, a harsh breathing through the nose and mouth;" c. 1600, "act of snoring, a snort while asleep," of imitative origin; see snore (v.).ETD snore (n.).2

    snorkel (n.)

    1944, "airshaft for a submarine," from German Schnorchel, from German navy slang Schnorchel "nose, snout," which is related to schnarchen "to snore" (see snore (n.)).ETD snorkel (n.).2

    So called from some resemblance to a nose or to its noise when activated. The Englished spelling attested by 1949. The meaning "curved tube used by a swimmer to breathe under water" is attested by 1951. Compare earlier, now obsolete, English imitative word snork "to snort" (1807); "a snort" (1814).ETD snorkel (n.).3

    snort (v.)

    early 15c, snorten, earlier fnorten (late 14c.), "breathe heavily, expel air through the nose with a harsh sound, make the sound of a horse," probably related to snore (v.) or like it imitative of the sound made. The sense of "express contempt" is from 1818. The meaning "inhale cocaine" is attested by 1935. Related: Snorted; snorting.ETD snort (v.).2

    snort (n.)

    1808, "act of snorting," from snort (v.). Earlier in now obsolete sense of "a snore" (1610s). As an expression of contempt, by 1865. The U.S. slang meaning "a drink of liquor" (especially whiskey) is from 1889.ETD snort (n.).2

    snorter (n.)

    c. 1600, "one who or that which snorts," agent noun from snort (v.). The U.S. slang meaning "something large of its kind" is by 1833. Also "high wind, gale" (1855).ETD snorter (n.).2

    snot (n.)

    late 14c., snotte, from Old English gesnot "nasal mucus," from Proto-Germanic *snuttan (source also of Old Frisian snotta, Middle Low German and Middle Dutch snotte, Middle Low German snute), from the same base as snout (q.v.). Old English had also a verb snite "wipe or pick one's nose." The meaning "despicable person" is from 1809. Snot-rag "pocket handkerchief" is by 1886.ETD snot (n.).2

    snotty (adj.)

    1560s, "full of snot," from snot + -y (2). The meaning "impudent, curt, conceited" is from 1870. Related: Snottily; snottiness. Snotnose "upstart" is from 1963 (snot-nosed "conceited, inexperienced, and contemptible" is by 1941, 1610s as "mean, dirty"); snotty-nose "contemptible fellow" is from c. 1600.ETD snotty (adj.).2

    snout (n.)

    early 13c., "trunk or projecting nose of an animal, the nose or jaws when protrusive," not found in Old English, from Middle Low German and Middle Dutch snute "snout," from Proto-Germanic *snut- (source also of German Schnauze, Norwegian snut, Danish snude "snout").ETD snout (n.).2

    Throughout the Germanic languages a group of words in sn- (Modern German and Yiddish schn-) relate to the human nose or the animal snout. Probably the root is imitative. The senses can extend to the snap of a dog's snout; the snort a horse can make, and the rough or obstructed breathing of a human snore. Also compare snarl, sneeze, snooze, snuff, snoop, snot, etc. Their relation to another Germanic group having to do with "to cut; a detached part" (snip, snick, etc.) is uncertain, but the senses tend to overlap.ETD snout (n.).3

    Of other animals and (contemptuously) of humans from c. 1300. 16c.-17c. English had snout-fair "good-looking" (1520s).ETD snout (n.).4

    snow (v.)

    c. 1300, snouen, "to fall as snow," from the noun, replacing Old English sniwan, which would have yielded modern snew (which lingered as a parallel form until 17c., longer in Yorkshire), from the Proto-Germanic source of snow (n.). The Old English verb is cognate with Middle Dutch sneuuwen, Dutch sneeuwen, Old Norse snjova, Swedish snöga.ETD snow (v.).2

    The transitive sense of "cause to snow" is by mid-14c. The figurative sense of "overwhelm; surround, cover, and imprison" (as heavy snows can bury livestock in the field) is 1880, American English, in phrase to snow (someone) under. Snow job "strong, persistent persuasion in a cause known to be dubious" (1943) is World War II armed forces slang, probably from the same image.ETD snow (v.).3

    snow (n.)

    Middle English snou, from Old English snaw "snow, that which falls as snow; a fall of snow; a snowstorm," from Proto-Germanic *snaiwaz (source also of Old Saxon and Old High German sneo, Old Frisian and Middle Low German sne, Middle Dutch snee, Dutch sneeuw, German Schnee, Old Norse snjor, Gothic snaiws "snow"), from PIE root *sniegwh- "snow; to snow" (source also of Greek nipha, Latin nix (genitive nivis), Old Irish snechta, Irish sneachd, Welsh nyf, Lithuanian sniegas, Old Prussian snaygis, Old Church Slavonic snegu, Russian snieg', Slovak sneh "snow"). The cognate in Sanskrit, snihyati, came to mean "he gets wet."ETD snow (n.).2

    As slang for "cocaine" it is attested from 1914.ETD snow (n.).3

    snowball (n.)

    "ball of snow, round mass of snow pressed together and convenient for throwing," c. 1400, from snow (n.) + ball (n.1). Similar formation in West Frisian sniebal, Middle Dutch sneubal, German Schneeball, Danish snebold. Expression snowball's chance (in Hell) "no chance" is recorded by 1910.ETD snowball (n.).2

    snowball (v.)

    "make snowballs," 1680s, from snowball (n.); the sense of "throw snowballs at" (someone) is from 1850. The meaning "to increase rapidly" is attested from 1929, though the image of a snowball increasing in size as it rolls along had been used at least since 1613, and a noun sense of "a pyramid scheme" is attested from 1892. Related: Snowballed; snowballing.ETD snowball (v.).2

    snowbank (n.)

    also snow-bank, "bank or drift of snow," 1779, from snow (n.) + bank (n.2).ETD snowbank (n.).2

    snowbird (n.)

    also snow-bird, from 1680s in reference to various types of birds associated with snow, from snow (n.) + bird (n.1). From 1923 in reference to northern U.S. workers who went to the South in the winter months to work; by 1979 in reference to seasonal tourists.ETD snowbird (n.).2

    snow-blind (adj.)

    "having reduced vision from reflection of light from fields of ice or snow," 1748, from snow (n.) + blind (adj.). Related: Snow-blindness.ETD snow-blind (adj.).2

    snowbound (adj.)

    also snow-bound, "shut in by a heavy fall of snow," 1814, from snow (n.) + bound (adj.1).ETD snowbound (adj.).2


    mountain in Caernarvonshire, northern Wales, from snow (n.) + Old English dun "hill, mountain" (see down (n.2); presumably translating a former Celtic name. The height is snow-covered much of the year. Related: Snowdonian.ETD Snowdon.2

    snowdrift (n.)

    "a drifted heap of snow," especially a bank driven up by the wind, early 14c., from snow (n.) + drift (n.).ETD snowdrift (n.).2

    snowdrop (n.)

    a low wildflower of the European woods noted as a very early bloomer, 1660s, from snow (n.) + drop (n.).ETD snowdrop (n.).2

    snowfall (n.)

    1821, "a fall of snow," especially a quiet one (as distinguished from a snowstorm), from snow (n.) + storm (n.). Attested from 1875 as "amount that falls at a place in a given time."ETD snowfall (n.).2

    snowflake (n.)

    "small, feathery piece of snow," 1734, from snow (n.) + flake (n.).ETD snowflake (n.).2

    snow-goose (n.)

    type of North American goose, 1771, from snow (n.) + goose (n.). So called for its white feathers.ETD snow-goose (n.).2

    snowy (adj.)

    "abounding in or covered with snow," Middle English snoui, from Old English snawig; see snow (n.) + -y (2). Related: Snowiness. Similar formation in Middle Low German sneig, Old High German snewac, German schneeig, Old Norse snæugr, Swedish snögig, Danish sneig.ETD snowy (adj.).2

    snowman (n.)

    also snow-man, "snow piled up and shaped into a human-like figure," 1827, from snow (n.) + man (n.).ETD snowman (n.).2

    snowmobile (n.)

    "motor vehicle designed for travel over snow," 1931, in reference to Admiral Byrd's expedition, from snow (n.) + ending from automobile, etc.ETD snowmobile (n.).2

    snow-plow (n.)

    also snowplow, snow-plough, "implement for clearing snow from roads, etc.," 1792, first mentioned in a New Hampshire context, from snow (n.) + plow (n.). Originally a frame of angled boards hauled by horses or oxen.ETD snow-plow (n.).2

    snow-shoe (n.)

    also snowshoe, "contrivance attached to the foot to enable the wearer to walk on deep snow without sinking in at every step," 1670s, from snow (n.) + shoe (n.). Related: Snowshoes. Snow-boot is attested from 1773.ETD snow-shoe (n.).2

    snow-shovel (n.)

    "flat, broad shovel made for throwing snow," 1820, from snow (n.) + shovel (n.).ETD snow-shovel (n.).2

    snowstorm (n.)

    "storm with a fall of snow," 1771, from snow (n.) + storm (n.).ETD snowstorm (n.).2

    snow-tire (n.)

    also snow-tyre, 1952, "type of automobile tire that grips better in snow," from snow (n.) + tire (n.). Earlier mud-and-snow tire (1948).ETD snow-tire (n.).2

    snow-white (adj.)

    "white as snow, very white," Middle English snou-whit, from Old English snawhwit (glossing Latin niveus), from snow (n.) + white (adj.). Similar formation in Dutch sneeuwwit, Middle Low German snewhit, German schneeweiss, Old Norse snæhvitr, snjo-hvitr, Swedish snöhvit, Danish snehvid. The fairy tale is so-called from 1885, translating German Schneewittchen in Grimm; the German name was used in English by 1858. Middle English also used snouish as "white as snow."ETD snow-white (adj.).2

    snub (adj.)

    "short and turned up," 1725, in snub-nosed, in reference to a shape of rather flat nose with a turned-up tip, from snub (v.). The notion is of being "cut short."ETD snub (adj.).2

    snub (n.)

    "a rebuke, an intentional slight," 1530s, from snub (v.).ETD snub (n.).2

    snub (v.)

    mid-14c., "to check, reprove, rebuke," from Old Norse snubba, Old Danish snebbe, "to curse, chide, snub, scold, reprove." The etymological sense is perhaps "to cut off," and the word probably is related to snip. Compare Swedish snobba "lop off, snuff (a candle)," Old Norse snubbotr "snubbed, nipped, with the tip cut off." Also compare earlier Middle English snibben "rebuke, reprove," from a Scandinavian source.ETD snub (v.).2

    The sense of "cut off, cut short, nip" is from 1610s, now obsolete. The meaning "treat coldly" appeared early 18c. Related: Snubbed; snubbing.ETD snub (v.).3

    snudge (n.)

    "miser, avaricious person," 1540s, "very common from c. 1550-1610" [OED]. Related: Snudging; snudgery.ETD snudge (n.).2

    snuff (v.2)

    "draw in through the nose with the breath," 1520s, also intransitive, "inhale air vigorously through the nose," from Dutch or Flemish snuffen "to sniff, snuff," which is related to Dutch snuiven "to sniff," from Proto-Germanic *snuf- (source also of Middle High German snupfe, German Schnupfen "head-cold"), imitative of the sound of drawing air through the nose (see snout). Related: Snuffed; snuffing.ETD snuff (v.2).2

    snuff (n.)

    "powdered tobacco to be inhaled," 1680s, from Dutch or Flemish snuf, shortened from snuftabak "snuff tobacco," from snuffen "to sniff, snuff" (see snuff (v.2)). The practice became fashionable in England c. 1680. Slang phrase up to snuff "knowing, sharp, wide-awake, not likely to be deceived" is from 1811; the exact sense is obscure unless it refers to the "elevating" properties of snuff.ETD snuff (n.).2

    snuff (v.1)

    "to cut or pinch off the burned part of a candle wick," mid-15c., snoffen, from noun snoffe "burned part of a candle wick" (late 14c.), a word of unknown origin, perhaps related to snuff (v.2).ETD snuff (v.1).2

    The meaning "to die" is from 1865; that of "to kill" is from 1932; snuff-film, pornography involving the actual killing of a woman, originally an urban legend, is from 1975.ETD snuff (v.1).3

    snuff-box (n.)

    "small box for holding snuff," 1680s, from snuff (n.) + box (n.1).ETD snuff-box (n.).2

    snuffer (n.)

    also snuffter, "instrument for cropping the snuff of a candle, with a closed box to contain the burnt smell and smoke," mid-15c., snoffer, agent noun from snuff (v.1). Often pair of snuffers. For the -t- variant, attested from 1550s, compare snifter, also Middle English snuffkin/snuftkin "a muff" (late 15c.).ETD snuffer (n.).2

    snuffy (adj.)

    "soiled with or smelling of snuff," 1765, from snuff (n.) + -y (2).ETD snuffy (adj.).2

    snuffle (v.)

    "breathe hard or through nasal obstruction," 1580s, from Dutch or Flemish words (compare snuffelen "to sniff about, pry"), from Dutch and Flemish snuffen "to sniff" (see snuff (v.2)). Compare sniffle. Related: Snuffled; snuffling.ETD snuffle (v.).2

    snuffle (n.)

    1764, "sound made by snuffling," from snuffle (v.). Old English had snofl (n.) "phlegm, mucus." The snuffles "troublesome mucous discharge from the nostrils" is from 1770.ETD snuffle (n.).2

    snug (adj.)

    1590s, "compact, trim" (of a ship), especially "protected from the weather," perhaps from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse snoggr "short-haired," Old Swedish snygg, Old Danish snøg "neat, tidy." This is perhaps ultimately from PIE *kes- (1) "to scratch" (see xyster).ETD snug (adj.).2

    The sense of "in a state of ease or comfort" is recorded by 1620s. The meaning "fit closely" is by 1838. Expression snug as a bug in a rug is attested by 1769; earlier was snug as a bee in a box (1706).ETD snug (adj.).3

    snuggle (v.)

    "move this way and that to get close to something or someone," as for warmth or affection, 1680s, a frequentative of snug (v.) "move so as to lie close to" (1580s); see snug (adj.) + -el (3). Related: Snuggled; snuggling. As a noun from 1901.ETD snuggle (v.).2


    also S.O.S., universal signal of extreme distress, 1910, from International Morse code letters chosen arbitrarily as being easy to transmit and difficult to mistake. Not an initialism (acronym) for "save our ship" or anything else. It won out over alternative suggestion C.Q.D., which is said to mean "come quickly, distress," or "CQ," the general all-stations call for alerting other ships that a message follows, and "D" for danger.ETD SOS.2

    SOS is the telegraphic distress signal only; the oral equivalent is mayday. The figurative sense of "urgent appeal for help" is by 1918. As a jocular abbreviation of same old s___, attested by 1918, military.ETD SOS.3

    so (adv., conj.)

    Middle English so, from Old English swa, swæ (adv., conj., pron.) "in this way, in such a manner that," also "to that extent; so as, consequently, therefore," and purely intensive; from Proto-Germanic *swa (source also of Old Saxon, Middle Dutch, Old High German so, Old Norse sva, Danish saa, Swedish , Old Frisian sa, Dutch zo, German so "so," Gothic swa "as"), from PIE reflexive pronominal stem *swo- "so" (source also of Greek hos "as," Old Latin suad "so," Latin se "himself"), derivative of *s(w)e-, pronoun of the third person and reflexive (see idiom).ETD so (adv., conj.).2

    Old English swa frequently was strengthened by eall, and so also is contained in compounds as, also, such. The -w- was crushed out by contraction from 12c.; compare two, which underwent the same process but retained its spelling.ETD so (adv., conj.).3

    As a word confirming a previous statement, late Old English; also from late Old English as an intensive in an affirmative clause (such as so very "exceedingly, extremely"). As an "introductory particle" [OED] from 1590s. Used to add emphasis or contradict a negative from 1913. So in mid-20c. British slang could mean "homosexual" (adj.).ETD so (adv., conj.).4

    So? as a term of dismissal is attested from 1886 (short for is that so?, etc.); it is older as an abbreviation of is it so? (1803). So what as an exclamation of indifference dates from 1934.ETD so (adv., conj.).5

    The abbreviating phrase and so forth is attested in Old English; and so on is attested from 1724. So far "at such a distance" was in Middle English; so far so good is from 1721, said then to be a Scottish proverb.ETD so (adv., conj.).6

    soak (v.)

    Middle English soken, from Old English socian (intransitive) "to soak, to lie in liquid," from Proto-Germanic *sukon (source also of West Flemish soken), possibly from PIE root *seue- (2) "to take liquid" (see sup (v.2)). The Old English word is a secondary form of sucan (past participle socen) "to suck" (see suck (v.)).ETD soak (v.).2

    The transitive sense of "drench, permeate, penetrate thoroughly by saturation" is from mid-14c.; that of "steep or cause to lie in liquid" is from early 15c. The meaning "take up by absorption" is from 1550s; that of "drink immoderately" is by 1680s. The slang meaning "overcharge extortionately, tax too heavily" is recorded by 1895. Related: Soaked; soaken (1650s, only in the "intoxicated" sense); soaking.ETD soak (v.).3

    As a noun, "a soaking," mid-15c., from the verb. Soaking as a noun is from mid-15c. Old soaker "veteran" at any craft or activity is by 1580s and apparently was not connected with the drinking sense, but the image is unclear.ETD soak (v.).4

    soap (v.)

    "rub or treat with soap," 1580s, from soap (n.). Related: Soaped; soaping.ETD soap (v.).2

    soap (n.)

    Middle English sope, from Old English sape "soap, salve," anciently a reddish hair dye used by Germanic warriors to give a frightening appearance, from Proto-Germanic *saipon "dripping thing, resin" (source also of Middle Low German sepe, West Frisian sjippe, Dutch zeep, Old High German seiffa, German seife "soap," Old High German seifar "foam," Old English sipian "to drip"), from PIE *soi-bon-, from root *seib- "to pour out, drip, trickle" (perhaps also the source also of Latin sebum "tallow, suet, grease").ETD soap (n.).2

    Romans and Greeks used oil to cleanse the skin; the Romance words for "soap" (Italian sapone, French savon, Spanish jabon) are from Late Latin sapo "pomade for coloring the hair" (first mentioned in Pliny), which is a Germanic loan-word, as is Finnish saippua. The figurative meaning "flattery" is recorded from 1853.ETD soap (n.).3

    soap-box (n.)

    also soapbox, 1650s, "box for holding soap," later especially a wooden crate in which soap may be packed; from soap (n.) + box (n.). Typical of a makeshift stand for a public orator at least since 1907. Also used by children to make racing carts, as in soap-box derby, the annual race in Dayton, Ohio, which dates to 1933.ETD soap-box (n.).2

    soap-bubble (n.)

    "bubble formed from soapy water," especially a thin sphere of soap-suds blown from a pipe, 1800, from soap (n.) + bubble (n.).ETD soap-bubble (n.).2

    soap-dish (n.)

    1835 as a dish for a bar of soap; 1814 as a holder for shaving-soap, from soap (n.) + dish (n.).ETD soap-dish (n.).2

    soapy (adj.)

    "soap-like; consisting of or containing soap," c. 1600, from soap (n.) + -y (2). Related: Soapily; soapiness.ETD soapy (adj.).2

    soap opera (n.)

    "melodramatic radio serial" (later extended to television), 1938, somewhat disparaging; see soap (n.) + opera (n.).ETD soap opera (n.).2

    Perhaps it is based on earlier was horse opera "a Western movie" (1927). The shortened form soap is attested by 1943.ETD soap opera (n.).3

    soap-stone (n.)

    also soapstone, type of talc, 1680s, from soap (n.) + stone (n.). So called because it occasionally was used for cleaning; it also was heated and put in griddles for foot-warming, etc.ETD soap-stone (n.).2

    soap-suds (n.)

    "soapy water churned into a froth," 1610s, see soap (n.) + suds.ETD soap-suds (n.).2

    soar (v.)

    late 14c., of birds, "rise high or sail through the air without beating the wings," from Old French essorer "fly up, soar," from Vulgar Latin *exaurare "rise into the air," from Latin ex "out" (see ex-) + aura "breeze, air" (see aura). Of mountains, buildings, etc., "rise aloft," by 1812. Figuratively by 1590s of souls, ambitions, etc.; by 1929 of prices. Related: Soared; soaring.ETD soar (v.).2


    abbreviation of son of a bitch (q.v.). The existence of sob (n.) probably prevented it becoming a full acronym.ETD S.O.B..2

    sob (v.)

    c. 1200, sobben, "to cry or sigh heavily with short breaths and a sudden heaving of the chest," in sorrow or joy, probably of imitative origin and related to Old English seofian "to lament," Old High German sufan "to draw breath," West Frisian sobje "to suck." Related: Sobbed; sobbing.ETD sob (v.).2

    sob (n.)

    late 14c., sobbe, "convulsive heaving of the breast," from sob (v.). Sob story "tale of grief" is from 1913. Sob sister "female journalist who writes sentimental stories or advice columns" is attested from 1912.ETD sob (n.).2

    sobeit (conj.)

    "if it be so, provided that," 1580s, from a running together of so be it, "one of our few surviving subjunctives" [Weekley].ETD sobeit (conj.).2

    sober (adj.)

    mid-14c., sobre, "moderate in desires or actions, habitually temperate, restrained," especially "abstaining from strong drink," also "calm, quiet, not overcome by emotion," from Old French sobre "decent; sober" (12c.), from Latin sobrius "not drunk, temperate, moderate, sensible," from a variant of se- "without" (see se-) + ebrius "drunk," which is of unknown origin.ETD sober (adj.).2

    The meaning "free from the influence of intoxicating liquors; not drunk at the moment" is from late 14c.; also "appropriately solemn, serious, not giddy." As "plain or simple in color" by 1590s. Jocular sobersides "sedate, serious-minded person" is recorded from 1705.ETD sober (adj.).3

    soberness (n.)

    early 14c., sobrenes, "state or character of being sober, moderation in desires or actions," from sober (adj.) + -ness. Also "gravity, seriousness" (late 14c.).ETD soberness (n.).2

    sober (v.)

    late 14c., sobren, "comfort, console, reduce to a quiet condition" (transitive), from sober (adj.). The sense of "free from intoxication" is by 1706; the extended sense of "bring back to reality" is by 1838. The sense of "render grave or serious" is attested from 1726. Soberize (1706) also was used. The intransitive sense of "become sober" is from 1820 (often but not originally with up) . Related: Sobered; sobering.ETD sober (v.).2

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