noun gut·ter·snipe \ˈgə-tər-ˌsnīp\

Definition of guttersnipe

  1. 1 :  a homeless vagabond and especially an outcast boy or girl in the streets of a city

  2. 2 :  a person of the lowest moral or economic station


play \ˈgə-tər-ˌsnī-pish\ adjective

guttersnipe was our Word of the Day on 06/16/2010. Hear the podcast!

Did You Know?

Unfurl yourselves under my banner, noble savages, illustrious guttersnipes, wrote Mark Twain sometime around 1869. Twain was among the first writers to use guttersnipe for a young hoodlum or street urchin. In doing so, he was following a trend among writers of the time to associate gutter (a low area at the side of a road) with a low station in life. Other writers in the late 19th century used guttersnipe more literally as a name for certain kinds of snipes, or birds with long thin beaks that live in wet areas. Gutter-bird was another term that was used at that time for both birds and disreputable persons. And even snipe itself has a history as a term of opprobrium; it was used as such during Shakespeare’s day.

Circa 1869

First Known Use of guttersnipe

circa 1869

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Seen and Heard

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to criticize severely

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