sneak

[sneek]
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verb (used without object), sneaked or snuck, sneak·ing.
  1. to go in a stealthy or furtive manner; slink; skulk.
  2. to act in a furtive or underhand way.
  3. British Informal. to tattle; inform.
verb (used with object), sneaked or snuck, sneak·ing.
  1. to move, put, pass, etc., in a stealthy or furtive manner: He sneaked the gun into his pocket.
  2. to do, take, or enjoy hurriedly or surreptitiously: to sneak a cigarette.
noun
  1. a sneaking, underhand, or contemptible person.
  2. Informal. a stealthy or furtive departure.
  3. British Informal. tattletale; informer.
  4. sneaker(def 1).
  5. Informal. a sneak preview.
  6. Cards. the lead of a singleton in a suit other than the trump suit, as in whist.

Origin of sneak

1590–1600; variant of Middle English sniken, Old English snīcan to creep; cognate with Old Norse snīkja to hanker after

Synonyms for sneak

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1. steal. See lurk.

Usage note

First recorded in writing toward the end of the 19th century in the United States, snuck has become in recent decades a standard variant past tense and past participle of the verb sneak : Bored by the lecture, he snuck out the side door. Snuck occurs frequently in fiction and in journalistic writing as well as on radio and television: In the darkness the sloop had snuck around the headland, out of firing range. It is not so common in highly formal or belletristic writing, where sneaked is more likely to occur. Snuck is the only spoken past tense and past participle for many younger and middle-aged persons of all educational levels in the U. S. and Canada. Snuck has occasionally been considered nonstandard, but it is so widely used by professional writers and educated speakers that it can no longer be so regarded.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


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British Dictionary definitions for sneak

sneak

verb
  1. (intr; often foll by along, off, in, etc) to move furtively
  2. (intr) to behave in a cowardly or underhand manner
  3. (tr) to bring, take, or put stealthily
  4. (intr) informal, mainly British to tell tales (esp in schools)
  5. (tr) informal to steal
  6. (intr; foll by off, out, away, etc) informal to leave unobtrusively
noun
  1. a person who acts in an underhand or cowardly manner, esp as an informer
    1. a stealthy act or movement
    2. (as modifier)a sneak attack
  2. British informal an unobtrusive departure
Derived Formssneaky, adjectivesneakily, adverbsneakiness, noun

Word Origin for sneak

Old English snīcan to creep; from Old Norse snīkja to hanker after
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 sneak
v.

1550s (implied in sneakish), perhaps from some dialectal survival of Middle English sniken "to creep, crawl" (c.1200), related to Old English snican "to sneak along, creep, crawl," from Proto-Germanic *sneikanan, which is related to the root of snake (n.). Of feelings, suspicions, etc., from 1748. Transitive sense, "to partake of surreptitiously" is from 1883. Related: Sneaking. Sneak-thief first recorded 1859; sneak-preview is from 1938.

n.

"a sneaking person; mean, contemptible fellow," 1640s, from sneak (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper