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[sneyk] /sneɪk/
any of numerous limbless, scaly, elongate reptiles of the suborder Serpentes, comprising venomous and nonvenomous species inhabiting tropical and temperate areas.
a treacherous person; an insidious enemy.
Building Trades.
  1. Also called auger, plumber's snake. (in plumbing) a device for dislodging obstructions in curved pipes, having a head fed into the pipe at the end of a flexible metal band.
  2. Also called wirepuller. a length of resilient steel wire, for threading through an electrical conduit so that wire can be pulled through after it.
verb (used without object), snaked, snaking.
to move, twist, or wind:
The road snakes among the mountains.
verb (used with object), snaked, snaking.
to wind or make (one's course, way, etc.) in the manner of a snake:
to snake one's way through a crowd.
to drag or haul, especially by a chain or rope, as a log.
Origin of snake
before 1000; Middle English (noun); Old English snaca; cognate with Middle Low German snake, Old Norse snākr
Related forms
snakelike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for snakelike
Historical Examples
  • snakelike he had cast his slough, and rejoiced in new and brilliant investiture.

    Rookwood William Harrison Ainsworth
  • Now and then her figure writhed with a slow, snakelike motion.

    The Gray Phantom Herman Landon
  • There was something venomous and snakelike in the boy's black eyes.

    The Night-Born Jack London
  • Down the corridor into which he crept, snakelike on his belly, red light flickered from an open door.

    When the Sleepers Woke Arthur Leo Zagat
  • They will have smiled at his childish tempers, applauded his snakelike cunning, and laughed outright at his heathen superstitions.

  • Tendrils projected from all parts of it, pallid and twisting lengths that writhed slowly with snakelike life.

    Deathworld Harry Harrison
  • snakelike amphibians, some fishlike, some lizard-like, and huge crocodilian forms appeared for the first time.

  • Holding the snakelike coil in both hands as in an iron vise, he tore the chain apart with a masterly jerk.

    The Gilded Man Clifford Smyth
  • Then she moved away a little, and reared her pretty back with a curious, snakelike motion.

    The Shoulders of Atlas Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
  • Her eyes fell upon a wriggling, snakelike thing that lay in this path of light.

    The Man From Brodney's

    George Barr McCutcheon
British Dictionary definitions for snakelike


any reptile of the suborder Ophidia (or Serpentes), typically having a scaly cylindrical limbless body, fused eyelids, and a jaw modified for swallowing large prey: includes venomous forms such as cobras and rattlesnakes, large nonvenomous constrictors (boas and pythons), and small harmless types such as the grass snake related adjectives colubrine ophidian
Also called snake in the grass. a deceitful or treacherous person
anything resembling a snake in appearance or action
(in the European Union) a former system of managing a group of currencies by allowing the exchange rate of each of them only to fluctuate within narrow limits
a tool in the form of a long flexible wire for unblocking drains
(intransitive) to glide or move like a snake
(transitive) (US) to haul (a heavy object, esp a log) by fastening a rope around one end of it
(transitive) (US) (often foll by out) to pull jerkily
(transitive) to move in or follow (a sinuous course)
Derived Forms
snakelike, adjective
Word Origin
Old English snaca; related to Old Norse snākr snake, Old High German snahhan to crawl, Norwegian snōk snail
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for snakelike



Old English snaca, from Proto-Germanic *snakon (cf. Old Norse snakr "snake," Swedish snok, German Schnake "ring snake"), from PIE root *sneg- "to crawl, creeping thing" (cf. Old Irish snaighim "to creep," Lithuanian snake "snail," Old High German snahhan "to creep"). In Modern English, gradually replacing serpent in popular use.

Traditionally applied to the British serpent, as distinguished from the poisonous adder. Meaning "treacherous person" first recorded 1580s (cf. Old Church Slavonic gadu "reptile," gadinu "foul, hateful"). Applied from 17c. to various snake-like devices and appliances. Snakes! as an exclamation is from 1839.

Snake eyes in crap-shooting sense is from 1919. Snake oil is from 1927. Snake-bitten "unlucky" is sports slang from 1957, from a literal sense, perhaps suggesting one doomed by being poisoned. The game of Snakes and Ladders is attested from 1907. Snake charmer is from 1813. Snake pit is from 1883, as a supposed primitive test of truth or courage; figurative sense is from 1941. Phrase snake in the grass is from Virgil's Latet anguis in herba [Ecl. III:93].



1650s, "to twist or wind (hair) into the form of a snake," from snake (n.). The intransitive sense of "to move like a snake" is attested from 1848; that of "to wind or twist like a snake" (of roads, etc.) is from 1875. Related: Snaked; snaking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for snakelike



  1. A young woman (WWI Navy)
  2. (also Snake) A native or resident of West Virginia (1934+)
  3. : US banks, railways, airlines, and some fast-food restaurants have switched over almost entirely to what is known as the ''snake,'' where all stations are served by one single-file line (1980s+)


To depart, esp unobtrusively; sneak: He snakes out of here without an overcoat (1848+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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