[sna-foo, snaf-oo]


a badly confused or ridiculously muddled situation: A ballot snafu in the election led to a recount.

adjective Rare.

in disorder; out of control; chaotic: a snafu scheme that simply won't work.

verb (used with object), sna·fued, sna·fu·ing. Rare.

to throw into disorder; muddle: Losing his passport snafued the whole vacation.

Origin of snafu

1940–45; s(ituation) n(ormal): a(ll) f(ucked) u(p); sometimes euphemistically construed as f(ouled) u(p) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for snafu

Contemporary Examples of snafu

  • SNAFU—“situation normal: all f--ked up,” as soldiers used to say—was the default position for American policy.

    The Daily Beast logo
    In Search of the Obama Doctrine

    Christopher Dickey

    July 26, 2013

  • So is this snafu an image problem, or is the real problem the reality behind the curtain—a curtain that needed to be pulled back?

    The Daily Beast logo
    Let the Military Mouth Off!

    Christopher Brownfield

    July 6, 2010

  • And you know what snafu stands for: Situation Normal, All Fucked Up.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Our Screwed Up Tax System: Fix It

    John Avlon

    February 6, 2009

Historical Examples of snafu

  • "We're not giving her a chance to snafu the works," Gotch said grimly.

  • Everything was in apple-pie order, except for the snafu in Arzachel, Crag thought bitterly.

British Dictionary definitions for snafu



confusion or chaos regarded as the normal state


(postpositive) confused or muddled up, as usual

verb -fus, -fuing or -fued

(tr) US and Canadian to throw into chaos

Word Origin for snafu

C20: from s (ituation) n (ormal): a (ll) f (ucked or ouled) u (p)
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 snafu

1941, U.S. military slang, acronym for situation normal, all fucked up, "an expression conveying the common soldier's laconic acceptance of the disorder of war and the ineptitude of his superiors" ["Oxford English Dictionary"]. As an adjective from 1942. In public explanations the word typically was euphemised to fouled.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper