snaf·​fle | \ ˈsna-fəl How to pronounce snaffle (audio) \

Definition of snaffle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a simple usually jointed bit for a bridle


snaffled; snaffling\ ˈsna-​f(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce snaffle (audio) \

Definition of snaffle (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to obtain especially by devious or irregular means

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Did You Know?


The origins of snaffle are shrouded in mystery. What we know of its story begins in the 16th century - at that time, snaffle existed as both a noun referring to a simple bit for a horse's bridle and a verb meaning "to fit or equip with a snaffle" or "to restrain or check with or as if with a snaffle." The noun could be from an old German word for mouth, snavel, but the connection has not been confirmed. The "obtain" meaning of the verb appeared in the early 18th century, and its origins are similarly elusive. A 1699 dictionary entered snaffle with the definition "a Highwayman that has got Booty" - that's a logical derivative of the verb, but it is also unconfirmed.

Examples of snaffle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Yet this creates an opportunity for others to snaffle the best brains repelled by chauvinism, to lure the most enterprising migrants, and once again to become lands of opportunity. The Economist, "Voters could make the world twice as rich. Why don’t they?," 16 Nov. 2019 The All Blacks lost ground and Ardie Savea turned around, sprinted back to the ruck, shrugged off a South African trying to clean him out, and snaffled the ball for a turnover. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Eyes on the prize: Savea is the special one for All Blacks," 1 Oct. 2019 Some 210 billion euros ($238 billion) in new company debt was snaffled up by investors between January and June, 21% higher than the same period last year. Washington Post, "Happy Days for Europe’s Giant Bond Sellers," 2 July 2019 So too is the manner in which Chinese visitors have been vilified in the region for snaffling prawns at buffets, barging into queues and misbehaving on planes. The Economist, "East Asia has the world’s fastest growing tourist industry," 12 Apr. 2018 Alan Pardew's side meanwhile were just outside the drop zone, and keen to snaffle a result at their neighbourhood rivals., "West Ham vs Crystal Palace: Classic Encounter, Key Battle, Team News & More," 29 Jan. 2018 The young American rallied to put together a remarkable final few holes, carding three birdies and one eagle in the process, to snaffle the claret jug for the first time. CNN, "2017 in golf: Sergio wins, Tiger returns and Thomas arrives," 26 Dec. 2017 Shaqiri aimed a tame, left-footed shot at the Chelsea goal, and Blues stopper Thibaut Courtois was more than a match for the weak strike, snaffling up the effort with ease., "Chelsea's Morata Puts Defensively Inept Stoke to the Sword With Clinical Hat-Trick," 23 Sep. 2017 Dozens of schlock horror movies have banked on the terror of being snaffled up by the toothy saurians, but the reptilian ambush predators of Olduvai Gorge actually did paleontologists a valuable service. Brian Switek, Smithsonian, "Why Paleontologists Should Love Meat-Eaters," 30 Jan. 2017

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

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First Known Use of snaffle


1533, in the meaning defined above


1724, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for snaffle


origin unknown


origin unknown

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The first known use of snaffle was in 1533

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Cite this Entry

“Snaffle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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