a person belonging to or characteristic of the lowest social group in a city.
a street urchin.

Origin of guttersnipe

First recorded in 1855–60; gutter + snipe
Related formsgut·ter·snip·ish, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for guttersnipe

Historical Examples of guttersnipe

  • He aimed a blow at the guttersnipe's head, but missed it and fell full length.

    The Opal Serpent

    Fergus Hume

  • But I have been taking lessons from every guttersnipe and old good-for-nought in the town.

    Grey Town

    Gerald Baldwin

  • In one way or the other, the guttersnipe must have his proper prominence.

  • The Humanitarian Hero had not come into fashion—nor yet the guttersnipe.

  • But—who in all his life ever before saw a guttersnipe with eyes so lacking in cunning and roguery?

British Dictionary definitions for guttersnipe



a child who spends most of his time in the streets, esp in a slum area
a person regarded as having the behaviour, morals, etc, of one brought up in squalor
Derived Formsguttersnipish, adjective

Word Origin for guttersnipe

C19: originally a name applied to the common snipe (the bird), then to a person who gathered refuse from gutters in city streets
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

Word Origin and History for guttersnipe

also gutter-snipe, 1857, from gutter (n.) + snipe (n.); originally Wall Street slang for "streetcorner broker," attested later (1869) as "street urchin," also "one who gathers rags and paper from gutters." As a name for the common snipe, it dates from 1874 but is perhaps earlier.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper