\ ˈsnēk How to pronounce sneak (audio) \
sneaked\ ˈsnēkt How to pronounce sneaked (audio) \ or snuck\ ˈsnək How to pronounce snuck (audio) \; sneaking

Definition of sneak

 (Entry 1 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 : to go stealthily or furtively : slink snuck out early
2 : to act in or as if in a furtive manner
3 : to carry the football on a quarterback sneak

transitive verb

: to put, bring, or take in a furtive or artful manner sneak a smoke
sneak up on
: to approach or act on stealthily



Definition of sneak (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a person who acts in a stealthy, furtive, or shifty manner
2a : a stealthy or furtive move
b : an unobserved departure or escape
3 : sneaker sense 2 usually used in plural



Definition of sneak (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : carried on secretly : clandestine
2 : occurring without warning : surprise a sneak attack

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Choose the Right Synonym for sneak


lurk, skulk, slink, sneak mean to behave so as to escape attention. lurk implies a lying in wait in a place of concealment and often suggests an evil intent. suspicious men lurking in alleyways skulk suggests more strongly cowardice or fear or sinister intent. something skulking in the shadows slink implies moving stealthily often merely to escape attention. slunk around the corner sneak may add an implication of entering or leaving a place or evading a difficulty by furtive or underhanded methods. sneaked out early

Sneaked vs. Snuck: Usage Guide


From its earliest appearance in print in the late 19th century as a dialectal and probably uneducated form, the past and past participle snuck has risen to the status of standard and to approximate equality with sneaked. It is most common in the U.S. and Canada but has also been spotted in British and Australian English.

Examples of sneak in a Sentence


They tried to sneak into the movie without paying. She sneaked some cigars through customs. He snuck a few cookies out of the jar while his mother wasn't looking. They caught him trying to sneak food into the theater. Can I sneak a peek at your quiz answers?


What a rotten sneak! I should have known not to trust her. He ran a sneak up the middle for a touchdown.


a sneak attack on the nation's capitol
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Raiders try to sneak Ingold onto the practice squad. Matt Kawahara,, "Raiders’ beat writer Matt Kawahara’s fearless 53-man roster projection," 30 Aug. 2019 Carolyn Ramey, 66, of Royal Oak Township sat at a picnic table on Belle Isle in Detroit last month, prepping food for her family reunion’s potluck, when a cousin sneaked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her for a big hug., "Despite a wet Belle Isle, this family reunion must go on," 28 Aug. 2019 Google scanners are unable to catch everything, particularly when developers sneak malicious or unethical code into apps that have already passed initial inspections. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Google Play app with 100 million downloads executed secret payloads," 27 Aug. 2019 Zoo visitors can try to sneak a peak of the cubs at the zoo when mom Kate moves her brood between nesting boxes. Georgia Slater,, "Rare Red Panda Triplets Born at Kansas City Zoo," 7 Aug. 2019 These days most migrants are not trying to sneak into the US to work. Ana Campoy, Quartz, "Democratic candidates are failing to confront the key issue on immigration," 31 July 2019 Stephen was among the three people killed Sunday evening when a gunman sneaked into the Gilroy Garlic Festival and began firing. Christina Maxouris, CNN, "6-year-old Stephen Romero was a 'happy kid,' his grandmother says. He was shot and killed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival," 29 July 2019 Soldiers, who once shot at those trying to sneak across the frontier, now turn a blind eye. The Economist, "Eritrea’s gulag state is crumbling," 11 July 2019 Midseason move: Louisville City FC sends Lucky Mkosana to Tampa Bay Louisville City equalized in the 55th minute when Paolo DelPiccolo's free kick sneaked just inside the near goalpost. David Harten, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville City FC earns a road draw with Indy Eleven on DelPiccolo's goal," 29 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Even When the Buffs pass Colorado State gave Laviska Shenault a sneak peek at what to expect all season from opposing secondaries. Matt Schubert, The Denver Post, "CU Buffs vs. Nebraska at Folsom Field: Who has the edge, predictions and 3 things to watch," 6 Sep. 2019 The home will not be open for public tours, but HGTV has posted before-and-after photos online, as well as a construction diary, a style guide and other sneak peeks. Molly Guthrey, Twin Cities, "‘HGTV Urban Oasis 2019’ is a Minneapolis house — and they’re giving it away," 4 Sep. 2019 But until then, diners who’d like a taste of chef William Eick’s new culinary concept can get a sneak peek. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Tiniest restaurant in town: Matsu taking the nontraditional route to startup," 29 Aug. 2019 The minute-long sneak peek, which was posted to YouTube on Thursday, opens with original star Bette (Jennifer Beals) announcing her mayoral run. NBC News, "'The L Word: Generation Q': Trailer drops for lesbian drama reboot," 22 Aug. 2019 Ramsay explains in the sneak peek, above, which offers a glimpse at the culinary master trying his hand at rock climbing. Lauren Huff,, "Gordon Ramsay rock climbs in a snowstorm in exclusive clip for Uncharted season finale," 22 Aug. 2019 Ahead of the release of the documentary, the ICAA gave House Beautiful a sneak peek of this footage—and Bunny shared her expertise on creating the perfect potager. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "Bunny Williams Shows How to Create a Potager, AKA a French-Style Garden," 20 Aug. 2019 Most played against Chaminade and offered a sneak peek at how good the Gauchos might be. Los Angeles Times, "Zero week in prep football gives fans opportunity to see top teams," 18 Aug. 2019 Beauty-news source @TrendMood1 shared a sneak peek, featuring what appear to be a few products from the new collection. Allure, "Kylie Cosmetics Is Launching Its First-Ever Face Primer," 2 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Get Ready: Katy Perry Has Released a Sneak Peek of Her New Song And the internet has receipts. Mehera Bonner, Marie Claire, "Get Ready: Katy Perry Has Released a Sneak Peek of Her New Song," 15 Mar. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sneak.' 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 sneak


1594, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


circa 1643, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1859, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sneak


akin to Old English snīcan to sneak along, Old Norse snīkja

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Learn More about sneak

Dictionary Entries near sneak





sneak boat

sneak box


Statistics for sneak

Last Updated

11 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sneak

The first known use of sneak was in 1594

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More Definitions for sneak



English Language Learners Definition of sneak

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: to move quietly and secretly in order to avoid being noticed
: to take or bring (something) secretly and often quickly
British, old-fashioned : to tell someone (such as a parent or teacher) about something wrong that someone else has done



English Language Learners Definition of sneak (Entry 2 of 3)

US, informal : a person who acts in a secret and usually dishonest way



English Language Learners Definition of sneak (Entry 3 of 3)

: done while others are not paying attention


\ ˈsnēk How to pronounce sneak (audio) \
sneaked\ ˈsnēkt \ or snuck\ ˈsnək \; sneaking

Kids Definition of sneak

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to move, act, bring, put, or take in a sly or secret way Ina-Rae lifted her desktop to sneak peeks at her valentines …— Richard Peck, A Year Down Yonder



Kids Definition of sneak (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who acts in a sly or secret way

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More from Merriam-Webster on sneak

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sneak

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sneak

Spanish Central: Translation of sneak

Nglish: Translation of sneak for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sneak for Arabic Speakers

Comments on sneak

What made you want to look up sneak? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


concealment of treason or felony

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