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See more synonyms for snail on Thesaurus.com
  1. any mollusk of the class Gastropoda, having a spirally coiled shell and a ventral muscular foot on which it slowly glides about.
  2. a slow or lazy person; sluggard.
  3. Machinery. a cam having the form of a spiral.
  4. Midwestern and Western U.S. a sweet roll in spiral form, especially a cinnamon roll or piece of Danish pastry.
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Origin of snail

before 900; Middle English snail, snayl(e), Old English snegel; cognate with Low German snagel, German (dial.) Schnegel
Related formssnail·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

clam, abalone, snail, crustacean, mollusk, scallop, conch, crawfish, prawn, shrimp, lobster, mussel, oyster, straggler, idler, procrastinator, sluggard, slug, plodder, dawdler

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British Dictionary definitions for snail


  1. any of numerous terrestrial or freshwater gastropod molluscs with a spirally coiled shell, esp any of the family Helicidae, such as Helix aspersa (garden snail)
  2. any other gastropod with a spirally coiled shell, such as a whelk
  3. a slow-moving or lazy person or animal
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Derived Formssnail-like, adjective

Word Origin

Old English snægl; related to Old Norse snigill, Old High German snecko
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 snail


Old English snægl, from Proto-Germanic *snagila (cf. Old Saxon snegil, Old Norse snigill, Danish snegl, Swedish snigel, Middle High German snegel, dialectal German Schnegel, Old High German snecko, German Schnecke "snail"), from *snog-, variant of PIE root *sneg- "to crawl, creep; creeping thing" (see snake (n.)). The word essentially is a diminutive form of Old English snaca "snake," which literally means "creeping thing." Also formerly used of slugs. Symbolic of slowness since at least c.1000; snail's pace is attested from c.1400.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper