1 of 2


snatched; snatching; snatches

intransitive verb

: to attempt to seize something suddenly

transitive verb

: to take or grasp abruptly or hastily
snatch up a pen
snatched the first opportunity
also : to seize or take suddenly without permission, ceremony, or right
snatched a kiss
snatcher noun


2 of 2


: a brief period
caught snatches of sleep
: a brief, fragmentary, or hurried part : bit
caught snatches of the conversation
: a snatching at or of something
slang : an act or instance of kidnapping
: a lift in weight lifting in which the weight is raised from the floor directly to an overhead position in a single motion compare clean and jerk, press
vulgar : the female pudenda
Choose the Right Synonym for snatch

take, seize, grasp, clutch, snatch, grab mean to get hold of by or as if by catching up with the hand.

take is a general term applicable to any manner of getting something into one's possession or control.

take some salad from the bowl

seize implies a sudden and forcible movement in getting hold of something tangible or an apprehending of something fleeting or elusive when intangible.

seized the suspect

grasp stresses a laying hold so as to have firmly in possession.

grasp the handle and pull

clutch suggests avidity or anxiety in seizing or grasping and may imply less success in holding.

clutching her purse

snatch suggests more suddenness or quickness but less force than seize.

snatched a doughnut and ran

grab implies more roughness or rudeness than snatch.

grabbed roughly by the arm

Example Sentences

Verb An eagle swooped down and snatched one of the hens. She snatched the toy from his hands. Noun to the police chief, it didn't look like a snatch, but another case of a bride-to-be getting cold feet
Recent Examples on the Web
Barnhart said there have been reports of bears brushing up against campers' tents at night and snatching backpacks. Johnny Casey, USA TODAY, 12 May 2023 De had been studying novae, or bright bursts that occur as a star snatches matter from another. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 May 2023 The Lakers’ size, physicality and force were more effective than the Warriors’ three-point shooting, the Lakers winning 117-112 to open the Western Conference semifinals and snatch the home-court edge. Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times, 3 May 2023 Patrick Scott McDermott, a young actor, cries, before snatching Rust’s own rifle and pointing it at him. Julia Jacobs, New York Times, 25 Apr. 2023 Every detail of this Lulus Rise to the Occasion Midi Wrap Dress is just precious — beginning with the flutter sleeves, the adjustable sash to help snatch your waist, and the sweeping midi skirt with a slight high-low design. Jill Schildhouse, Travel + Leisure, 25 Apr. 2023 The Browns selected David Njoku with that first-round pick, but the Steelers snatched up Watt with the No. 30 selection, to the chagrin of Wisconsin football fans who wanted to see their worlds collide. Jr Radcliffe, Journal Sentinel, 24 Apr. 2023 The Time Lord was a backboard-eating force at both ends, snatching 15 rebounds and blocking two shots to go along with his 13 points. Globe Staff,, 23 Apr. 2023 McAdory 3-1, Spanish Fort 2-7 McAdory scored three runs in the seventh inning to snatch Game 1 for the homestanding Toros, but Spanish Fort rallied to even the series in the nightcap. al, 23 Apr. 2023
While there hasn’t been a particular rash of private sales scams in the city lately, Bosques recalled a case the FBI cracked with the help of a Fremont detective who was investigating a snatch-and-grab robbery at a coffee shop in 2012. Joseph Geha, The Mercury News, 8 June 2017 The text, sung by two sopranos, may well have been in Esperanto, as only snatches were decipherable. Alan G. Artner,, 4 June 2017 The beat is now peppy with drum and snatches of piano, a common Beatles rhythm. Nicholas Dawidoff, The Atlantic, 18 May 2017 Some were able to hear snatches of melody as subtle as the scraping together of grass-blades or the throbbing of the brittle tissue of insects. Ben Lerner, The New Yorker, 29 Mar. 2017 The accidental comedy of some of the conversations even led the program BBC Newsnight to dramatize snatches of dialogue, with the voices of both the American president and the British prime minister played by the impressionist Rory Bremner. Robert Mackey, New York Times, 8 Jan. 2016 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'snatch.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English snacchen to snap, seize; akin to Middle Dutch snacken to snap at

First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


1563, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of snatch was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near snatch

Cite this Entry

“Snatch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
: to seize or try to seize something quickly or suddenly
: to grasp or take suddenly or hastily : grab
snatcher noun


2 of 2 noun
: a brief period
slept in snatches
: something brief, hurried, or in small bits
: a snatching at or of something

More from Merriam-Webster on snatch

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