Also called inhaler. a pear-shaped glass, narrowing at the top to intensify the aroma of brandy, liqueur, etc.
Informal. a very small drink of liquor.

Origin of snifter

1840–50; derivative of snifter to sniff, snivel, Middle English snyfter; imitative Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for snifter

Historical Examples of snifter

  • For the love of goodness, Fritz, give me a snifter of tanglefoot!

  • But he was just a snifter short on that potent and undisciplined drink.

  • He turned, snifter in hand, and it was easy to see that his privations had tried him sorely.

    Right Ho, Jeeves

    P. G. Wodehouse

  • But picking up the sail in other blows and picking it up in a Cape Horn snifter is a horse of another color.

    The Viking Blood

    Frederick William Wallace

  • At sunset he quit, easy winner, and went without taking so much as a "snifter."

British Dictionary definitions for snifter



a pear-shaped glass with a short stem and a bowl that narrows towards the top so that the aroma of brandy or a liqueur is retained
informal a small quantity of alcoholic drink

Word Origin for snifter

C19: perhaps from dialect snifter to sniff, perhaps of Scandinavian origin; compare Danish snifta (obsolete) to sniff
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 snifter

1844, "a drink of liquor," earlier "a sniff," from a Scottish and northern English survival of an obsolete verb snift meaning "to sniff, snivel" (mid-14c.), of imitative origin (cf. sniff (v.)). Meaning "large bulbous stemmed glass for drinking brandy" is from 1937. The association of "drinking liquor" with words for "inhaling, snuffling" (e.g. snort (n.), snootful) is perhaps borrowed from snuff-taking and the nasal reaction to it.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper