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verb (used without object)
  1. to smile, laugh, or contort the face in a manner that shows scorn or contempt: They sneered at his pretensions.
  2. to speak or write in a manner expressive of derision or scorn.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to utter or say in a sneering manner.
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  1. a look or expression of derision, scorn, or contempt.
  2. a derisive or scornful utterance, especially one more or less covert or insinuative.
  3. an act of sneering.
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Origin of sneer

1545–55; orig., to snort; compare Frisian (N dial.) sneere scornful remark, snarl1
Related formssneer·er, nounsneer·ful, adjectivesneer·ing·ly, adverbsneer·less, adjectivesub·sneer, nounun·sneer·ing, adjectiveun·sneer·ing·ly, adverb

Synonyms for sneer

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2. gibe. See scoff1. 5. scoff, gibe, jeer.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for sneer

taunt, jeer, scoff, deride, belittle, grin, dump, twit, gird, slam, jest, rally, caricature, leer, swipe, insult, lampoon, decry, travesty, crack

Examples from the Web for sneer

Contemporary Examples of sneer

Historical Examples of sneer

British Dictionary definitions for sneer


  1. a facial expression of scorn or contempt, typically with the upper lip curled
  2. a scornful or contemptuous remark or utterance
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  1. (intr) to assume a facial expression of scorn or contempt
  2. to say or utter (something) in a scornful or contemptuous manner
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Derived Formssneerer, nounsneerful, adjectivesneering, adjective, nounsneeringly, adverb

Word Origin for sneer

C16: perhaps from Low Dutch; compare North Frisian sneere contempt
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 sneer


1550s, "to snort" (of horses), perhaps from North Frisian sneere "to scorn," related to Old English fnæran "to snort, gnash one's teeth," of imitative origin (cf. Danish snærre "to grin like a dog," Middle Dutch, Middle High German snarren "to rattle"). Meaning "to smile contemptuously" is from 1670s; sense of "to curl the upper lip in scorn" is attested from 1775. Related: Sneered; sneering. Sneer word is in E. Digby Baltzell (1987).

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1707, from sneer (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper