snivel

1 of 2

verb

sniv·​el ˈsni-vəl How to pronounce snivel (audio)
sniveled or snivelled; sniveling or snivelling ˈsni-və-liŋ How to pronounce snivel (audio)
ˈsniv-liŋ

intransitive verb

1
: to run at the nose
2
: to snuff mucus up the nose audibly : snuffle
3
: to cry or whine with snuffling
4
: to speak or act in a whining, sniffling, tearful, or weakly emotional manner
sniveler
ˈsni-və-lər How to pronounce snivel (audio)
ˈsniv-lər
noun

snivel

2 of 2

noun

1
snivels plural, dialect : head cold
2
: an act of sniveling

Did you know?

There's never been anything pretty about sniveling. Snivel, which originally meant simply "to have a runny nose," was probably snyflan in Old English. It's likely related to sniffle, not surprisingly, and also to an Old English word for mucus, snofl. It's even related to the Middle Dutch word for a cold, snof, and the Old Norse word for "snout," which is snoppa. There's also a connection to nan, a Greek verb meaning "flow." Nowadays, we mostly use snivel as we have since the 1600s: to refer to self-pitying whining, whether or not such sniveling is accompanied by unchecked nasal flow.

Examples of snivel in a Sentence

Verb millionaires sniveling about their financial problems “Woe is me,” she sniveled.
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Succession did a lot of things right — hiring Nicholas Britell to compose its instantly delectable theme music and score the show, turning Mr. Darcy into the sniveling sycophant that is Tom Wambsgans, making Willa write the flop play Sands that bankrupts her sugar daddy. Vulture, 21 Dec. 2023 In 1961, for a conference convened by Lefebvre himself, the S.I. submitted a tape recording—attending would have suggested a sniveling reverence for expertise. Tobi Haslett, Harper's Magazine, 18 Sep. 2023 Hateful speech will not be tolerated—unless it’s directed at my snivelling, worthless neighbor, Gary. Eli Coyote Mandel, The New Yorker, 15 July 2023 Before getting down to business in Spain, Amorth is dressed down by a sniveling young Cardinal (Ryan O’Grady) who places little stock in supernatural mumbo jumbo. Chris Vognar, Rolling Stone, 15 Apr. 2023 There are preening Nazis, sniveling French collaborators and a stream of noble and nefarious rogues. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 Apr. 2023 Another video shows Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson standing together in a circle like a group of sniveling gossips during lunch in the schoolyard. Amy MacKelden, Harper's BAZAAR, 4 Dec. 2019 In the 21st century, they are depicted as sniveling wimps and are reviled. The Economist, 4 Dec. 2019 Disappointment is running high after Sunday’s Game of Thrones finale and chief among fan grievances is the fact that a sniveling young white boy who often did the least—that would be Bran—ascended to the (now-defunct) Iron Throne. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, 20 May 2019 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Verb

Middle English, from Old English *snyflan; akin to Dutch snuffelen to snuffle, snuffen to sniff

First Known Use

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of snivel was in the 14th century

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near snivel

Cite this Entry

“Snivel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/snivel. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

snivel

verb
sniv·​el
ˈsniv-əl
sniveled or snivelled; sniveling or snivelling
-(ə-)liŋ
1
: to draw mucus up the nose loud enough to be heard
2
: to cry or whine with sniffling
3
: to speak or act in a whining manner
sniveler
-(ə-)lər
noun
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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