verb (used without object)

to prowl or pry; go about in a sneaking, prying way.


an act or instance of snooping.
a person who snoops.
a private detective.

Origin of snoop

1825–35, Americanism; < Dutch snoepen to take and eat food on the sly
Related formssnoop·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for snooper

Contemporary Examples of snooper

Historical Examples of snooper

  • The snooper was drifting aimlessly about, avoiding the parked vehicles.

    The Cosmic Computer

    Henry Beam Piper

  • He sent the snooper ahead, tilting it to look down into the pit.

    The Cosmic Computer

    Henry Beam Piper

  • Suddenly, one of them saw the snooper, gave a yell, and fired at it with a rifle.

    The Cosmic Computer

    Henry Beam Piper

  • Duke: I 'd nudge him off the cliff—jest like he were a sneakin' snooper.

    Wappin' Wharf

    Charles S. Brooks

  • He pointed at the snooper screen, which gave a view of the plaza from directly above.


    H. Beam Piper

British Dictionary definitions for snooper



a person who snoops
British informal a person employed by the DSS to spy on claimants to make sure that they are not infringing the conditions of their eligibility for benefit



(intr; often foll by about or around) to pry into the private business of others


a person who pries into the business of others
an act or instance of snooping
Derived Formssnoopy, adjective

Word Origin for snoop

C19: from Dutch snoepen to eat furtively
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 snooper



1832, "to go around in a prying manner," American English, probably from Dutch snoepen "to pry," also "eat in secret, eat sweets, sneak," probably related to snappen "to bite, snatch" (see snap (v.)). Specific meaning "to pry into other people's business" is attested from 1921. Related: Snooped; snooping.



1891, "act of snooping," from snoop (v.). Meaning "one who snoops" is from 1929; meaning "detective" is from 1942. snooper "one who pries or peeps" is from 1889.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper