\ ˈsnāl How to pronounce snail (audio) \

Definition of snail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a gastropod mollusk especially when having an external enclosing spiral shell
2 : a slow-moving or sluggish person or thing


snailed; snailing; snails

Definition of snail (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to move, act, or go slowly or lazily

Other Words from snail


snaillike \ ˈsnāl-​ˌlīk How to pronounce snail (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for snail

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of snail in a Sentence

Noun go and tell the snails in the back to hurry up Verb the highway construction work created a bottleneck that had cars snailing for the next five miles
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The snail-like pace of weapons shipments to Kyiv’s military is becoming a political scandal in Germany. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 25 Apr. 2022 And yet most readers wouldn't tolerate a snail-like pace in a book. CBS News, 15 Dec. 2021 The giant African land snail of Miami, a creature that seems to have crept out of a sci-fi movie, will eat just about anything, including car paint. Christoph Irmscher, WSJ, 8 Apr. 2022 Last fall, a group of men began sneaking into the mangrove forest to harvest a type of snail buried within the mangrove roots. New York Times, 7 Apr. 2022 Thought to be dead, this snail surprised everyone when it was found to be alive in March 1850. Grrlscientist, Forbes, 26 Mar. 2022 There is one scene where Melinda inadvertently steps on a snail. Clarissa Cruz,, 18 Mar. 2022 Last year a Vietnamese fish plant worker in Unalaska died during an emergency flight to Anchorage after eating a handful of blue mussels and a marine snail at an Independence Day party. Karen Pinchin, Scientific American, 1 Jan. 2022 Negotiations are moving along at a snail’s pace, or worse, at the pace of a baseball game. Paul Sullivan,, 25 Feb. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Davison and the scientists bred the lefty snails together, and over three years, nearly 15,000 eggs were hatched from four generations of snails, including Jeremy. Kristen Rogers, CNN, 2 June 2020 Cathy Jordan may die as this snails its way through the system. Dara Kam,, 3 July 2018 Cathy Jordan may die as this snails its way through the system. Dara Kam,, 3 July 2018 The investigators found that hungry caterpillars, which usually gorge on tomato leaves, had no appetite for them after the plants were exposed to snail slime and activated their chemical resistance. Erica Tennenhouse, Scientific American, 13 Apr. 2018 Payments for premiums still cannot be processed online - people have to snail-mail checks to a CGI processor in Nebraska. Lynnley Browning, Newsweek, 6 Feb. 2014 Ten minutes of the second half snailed by without anything more exciting happening than Ryan Bertrand missing a two-yard pass to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain., 5 Oct. 2017 See More

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

First Known Use of snail


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1582, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for snail


Middle English, from Old English snægl; akin to Old High German snecko snail, snahhan to creep

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Time Traveler for snail

Time Traveler

The first known use of snail was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near snail

snag tree


snail's pace

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Statistics for snail

Last Updated

9 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Snail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for snail


\ ˈsnāl How to pronounce snail (audio) \

Kids Definition of snail

: a small slow-moving mollusk that has a spiral shell into which it can draw itself for safety and that can live either on land or in water


\ ˈsnā(ə)l How to pronounce snail (audio) \

Medical Definition of snail

: any of various gastropod mollusks and especially those having an external enclosing spiral shell including some which are important in medicine as intermediate hosts of trematodes

More from Merriam-Webster on snail

Nglish: Translation of snail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of snail for Arabic Speakers


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