guttersnipe

play
noun gut·ter·snipe \ ˈgə-tər-ˌsnīp \

Definition of guttersnipe

1 :a homeless vagabond and especially an outcast boy or girl in the streets of a city
2 :a person of the lowest moral or economic station

guttersnipish

play \ˈgə-tər-ˌsnī-pish\ adjective

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

Recent Examples of guttersnipe from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'guttersnipe.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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.

First Known Use of guttersnipe

circa 1869


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