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[snif-uh l] /ˈsnɪf əl/
verb (used without object), sniffled, sniffling.
to sniff repeatedly, as from a head cold or in repressing tears:
She sniffled woefully.
an act or sound of sniffling.
sniffles, a condition, as a cold, marked by sniffling (usually preceded by the):
This draft is giving me the sniffles.
Origin of sniffle
First recorded in 1625-35; sniff + -le
Related forms
sniffler, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sniffles
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Luella's eyes closed and her sniffles changed to a low howl.

    The Girl Scouts at Home

    Katherine Keene Galt
  • Now in charge of my chips, sniffles called the turn on every roll.

    Vigorish Gordon Randall Garrett
  • When I won it, I pulled my chips off the table, which sniffles didn't resist.

    Vigorish Gordon Randall Garrett
  • I made a break for it with the rest of the crowd, trying to keep my eye on sniffles.

    Vigorish Gordon Randall Garrett
  • Is you able, Jehoshaphat, t have the doctor from sniffles Arm for your woman!

    Every Man for Himself Norman Duncan
  • His eyes snapped vindictively, while his ears joyed in the sniffles she emitted.

    Martin Eden Jack London
  • Just a case of sniffles, and a good excuse for hitting the booze.

    The Blood Red Dawn Charles Caldwell Dobie
  • Now hear it once more, you that need to hear it—and damn all such poor pussyism as sniffles and whines and rejects it!

    The Lions of the Lord Harry Leon Wilson
  • We all know that when London sniffles the value of handkerchiefs goes up in New York.

    Germany and the Germans Price Collier
British Dictionary definitions for sniffles


plural noun (informal)
the sniffles, a cold in the head
the sniffling that sometimes accompanies weeping or prolonged crying


(intransitive) to breathe audibly through the nose, as when the nasal passages are congested
the act, sound, or an instance of sniffling
Derived Forms
sniffler, noun
sniffly, adjective
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 sniffles



1819, frequentative form of sniff (v.). Related: Sniffled; sniffling. The sniffles "runny nose, head cold" is recorded from 1825. Sniffly (1897) tends to refer to physical symptoms, while sniffy (1858) means "scornful, disdainful and disagreeable." Snuffy "annoyed" is from 1670s.

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



A runny nose from a common cold or allergy: lots of Kleenex for his sniffles (1770s+)

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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