snuff

1 of 6

noun (1)

plural snuffs
1
: the charred part of a candlewick
His head instantly dropped, and he ceased breathing as quietly as the snuff of a candle goes out.Paul Jennings
2
a
obsolete : umbrage, offense
usually used with take
… took snuff at the ostentation of her crooked consort.Samuel Lucas
b
chiefly Scotland : a fit of resentment or indignation : huff
To take a thing in snuff was to take it offensively, and express contempt of the offender by drawing up the nostril …All the Year Round: A Weekly Journal
Taking it to snuff and dudgeon …Maurice Atkins

snuff

2 of 6

verb (1)

snuffed; snuffing; snuffs

transitive verb

1
: to crop the snuff of (a candle) by pinching or by the use of snuffers so as to brighten the light
She hastily snuffed her candle—it was burning dim …Francis Warre Cornish
The man took up the candle, snuffed it with his fingers, and striding up to Ephraim held the light full in his face …Mary Elizabeth Braddon
2
a
: to extinguish (a flame, a candle, etc.) by or as if by the use of a candlesnuffer
Fire crews were making progress as they continued to patrol the town, snuffing small spot fires and sparking a controlled burn to protect the remaining buildings.The Globe and Mail (Canada)
often used with out
He lit the cones and immediately snuffed them out.Daniel P. Wiener
I snuffed out my tallow candle, jumped into my coat and moccasins, and plunged out into the snow.Jean Craighead George
(figurative) Four cubic miles of volcanic ash and other debris shot as high as 30 miles into the atmosphere, snuffing out the daylight and covering nearby islands with several feet of ash.Cheryl Simon
b
: to cause the end of : to put an end to
Three interceptions in the fourth quarter snuffed San Diego's remaining hopes.John Papanek
usually used with out
The rebellion might have been easily snuffed out then.Jeffrey Bartholet
also : kill, execute
snuffed the bad guys
… was snuffed to cover up an immense scandal. Linda Grant

snuff

3 of 6

adjective

: characterized by the sensationalistic depiction of violence
especially : featuring a real rather than a staged murder
snuff movies

snuff

4 of 6

verb (2)

snuffed; snuffing; snuffs

transitive verb

1
: to draw forcibly through or into the nostrils
2
3
: to sniff at in order to examine
used of an animal

intransitive verb

1
: to inhale through the nose noisily and forcibly
also : to sniff or smell inquiringly
2
obsolete : to sniff loudly in or as if in disgust
3
: to take snuff

snuff

5 of 6

noun (2)

: the act of snuffing : sniff

snuff

6 of 6

noun (3)

1
: a preparation of pulverized tobacco to be inhaled through the nostrils, chewed, or placed against the gums
2
: the amount of snuff taken at one time
Phrases
snuff it
British slang
: die
… the man did look absolutely dreadful; dreadful enough that he should almost certainly have snuffed it by now …Matthew Waldram
… a fairly detailed itinerary had emerged giving me the opportunity to achieve at least half of the items on the 'before I snuff it' list.Sydney Marcellus Operahouse
up to snuff
: of sufficient quality : meeting an applicable standard

Examples of snuff in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Solid battery life and bluetooth range make these an easy choice for use on the go, though the active noise cancelling isn’t up to snuff when compared to other brands’ offerings. Jade Chung-Lee, PCMAG, 6 Feb. 2024 And no matter what wasn’t quite up to snuff this season – utensils, dishes, cutting boards, glassware, cutlery, pots and pans or appliances – after-holiday sales give you a chance to buy at bargain prices. Charlotte Observer, 30 Jan. 2024 However, several surrogates saw their moment to shine snuffed out after the race was called just 30 minutes after polling locations opened and before some of them had finished their speeches. Cami Mondeaux, Washington Examiner, 16 Jan. 2024 By blocking out sunlight, these tiny dust particles set the scene for swathes of life to be snuffed out post-impact — including the dinosaurs. Sean Mowbray, Discover Magazine, 26 Dec. 2023 Ultimately, the Belarussian state snuffed out the dissent with unremitting violence. Aleksei Miniailo, Foreign Affairs, 28 Dec. 2023 The gaps in between albums served a purpose, as Pierce made sure the albums were up to snuff. Mike Palm, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Dec. 2023 No one is asking for a new Israeli-Palestinian peace process now, but Israeli leaders must stop actively encouraging West Bank settlements to expand, a process that has gradually snuffed out any hope of a two-state solution. Audrey Kurth Cronin, Foreign Affairs, 15 Oct. 2023 But regulators in multiple jurisdictions said the deal was another example of a tech incumbent snuffing out a nascent competitor. Leah Nylen, Fortune, 18 Dec. 2023
Noun
It was usually smoked, ingested in the form of snuff, or used as an enema. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 14 June 2023 Other artifacts discovered include a toothbrush, an empty snuff bottle, copper buttons and a belt buckle. Christopher Parker, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 Aug. 2023 Next to him, a man with glazed eyes and a sloppy grin lays out a rough line of snuff along his wrist, preparing for a swift hit of stress-relieving nicotine. Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, 31 July 2023 That wasn’t pure comedy; the real queen allegedly had an entire room at Windsor Castle allocated for her snuff and is said to have accumulated 90 snuff boxes by the time of her death. Radhika Menon, ELLE, 5 May 2023 Coming on the heels of its eye-opening Secrets of Playboy, which accused the late Playboy honcho Hugh Hefner of being a rapist who was into snuff films and bestiality, A&E is now dropping Secrets of Miss America, a four-part docuseries airing weekly starting July 10. Marlow Stern, Rolling Stone, 10 July 2023 Although the killer is masked in two of the snuff videos (the third has gone unfound), there’s a preponderance of evidence against Chevalier, who sits alone in a booth like a modern-day Adolf Eichmann. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 July 2023 So it's usually smoked, ingested in the form of snuff, or used as an enema by those seeking the full hallucinogenic effect. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 13 Jan. 2022 Swedish Match, based in Stockholm, makes nicotine pouches, chewing tobacco, and moist snuff, among other products. BostonGlobe.com, 11 May 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'snuff.' 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

Noun (1)

Middle English snoffe

Verb (2)

akin to Dutch snuffen to sniff, snuff — more at snivel

Noun (3)

Dutch snuf, short for snuftabak, from snuffen to snuff + tabak tobacco

First Known Use

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1971, in the meaning defined above

Verb (2)

1527, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun (2)

1568, in the meaning defined above

Noun (3)

1650, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near snuff

Cite this Entry

“Snuff.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/snuff. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

snuff

1 of 3 verb
1
: to cut off the burned end of the wick of a candle so as to brighten the light
2
: to put an end to : extinguish
snuff out a candle
snuff out a life

snuff

2 of 3 verb
1
: to draw forcibly through or into the nostrils
2
: to sniff so as to smell

snuff

3 of 3 noun
: powdered tobacco especially for inhaling through the nostrils
Etymology

Verb

Middle English snoffe "the burned end of a candle wick"

Verb

perhaps derived from Dutch snuffen "to sniff"

Noun

from Dutch snuf, a shortened form of snuftabak "powdered tobacco," from snuffen "to snuff, sniff" and tabak "tobacco"

Medical Definition

snuff

noun
: a preparation of pulverized tobacco to be inhaled through the nostrils, chewed, or placed against the gums
also : a preparation of a powdered drug to be inhaled through the nostrils

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