\ 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 Creating the soundtrack to little interactions taking place in a big city, between the people but also their pets, including a chameleon and a snail. Marta Balaga, Variety, 1 Nov. 2021 That means protecting entire ecosystems, not just focusing on a single species, whether a grizzly bear or a tiny snail. Olivia Gieger, Forbes, 1 Oct. 2021 An intimate look is offered into the lives of cichlid fish in Lake Tanganyika as two adult male cichlids, each barely four centimeters long, fight jaw-to-jaw over a snail shell. Cecilia Rodriguez, Forbes, 14 Oct. 2021 But thanks to the snail-trails left over from the first two chapters, and the heavy residue of camp from Chapter 2 in particular, the proceedings are tainted to a near-detrimental degree. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 13 Oct. 2021 The last live giant African land snail was reported in 2017. al, 7 Oct. 2021 In Florida, the African land snail existed largely in Miami-Dade County, although hundreds of the pests were found in Broward County, specifically western Davie, in 2014. Chris Perkins,, 6 Oct. 2021 Rabbit, lamb, shrimp and sea snail are just some of the main ingredients on the tasting menu; the assortment of fresh vegetables, pastes, spices and salsa accompanying them is just as unique. Shelby Knick, Forbes, 6 Oct. 2021 The act of sitting down and writing a letter, sticking a stamp on it, and then snail-mailing it across the continent will add gravity and a human touch to your communication. Mark Antonio Wright, National Review, 22 May 2021 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

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.

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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

17 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Snail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for snail



English Language Learners Definition of snail

: a small animal that lives in a shell that it carries on its back, that moves very slowly, and that can live in water or on land


\ 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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