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[sniv-uh l] /ˈsnɪv əl/
verb (used without object), sniveled, sniveling or (especially British) snivelled, snivelling.
to weep or cry with sniffling.
to affect a tearful state; whine.
to run at the nose; have a runny nose:
She sniveled from the cold.
to draw up mucus audibly through the nose:
Stop sniveling and use your handkerchief.
verb (used with object), sniveled, sniveling or (especially British) snivelled, snivelling.
to utter with sniveling or sniffling.
weak, whining, or pretended weeping.
a light sniffle, as in weeping.
a hypocritical show of feeling:
a sentimental snivel.
mucus running from the nose.
snivels, a sniveling condition; a slight cold; sniffles (usually preceded by the).
Origin of snivel
1275-1325; Middle English snyvele; compare Old English snyflung (gerund), derivative of snofl mucus; cognate with Low German snüfeln
Related forms
sniveler; especially British, sniveller, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for sniveling
Historical Examples
  • At the sight of them the lodge brother, the sniveling one who had followed me home in the snow, set up a veritable caterwauling.

    Fantazius Mallare Ben Hecht
  • Come, come; don't go to sniveling; be a good girl, and mind the main chance.

    The Contrast Royall Tyler
  • From sobbing, Miss Winthrop dwindled to sniveling, and there she stopped.

    The Wall Street Girl Frederick Orin Bartlett
  • And that sniveling boy will give me no more of his infernal lip!

    Cursed George Allan England
  • I grabbed the sniveling little Ollie and held him between us with my hands around his neck.

    Backlash Winston Marks
  • It might do for some sniveling sycophant of learning and money, but he was going forth to—what?

    The Happy End Joseph Hergesheimer
  • He is only a peasant's sniveling cub, a mountaineer's orphan brat!

    The Wolf Cub Patrick Casey
  • And when you speak of sniveling Puritans, speak of them that do snivel.

  • I have quite got over my old fancy for you, and your sniveling cannot warm over the old coals.

    Pretty Geraldine, the New York Salesgirl Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller
  • Her ratlike little face—soft voice like a purring, sniveling cat!

British Dictionary definitions for sniveling


verb -els, -elling, -elled (US) -els, -eling, -eled
(intransitive) to sniffle as a sign of distress, esp contemptibly
to utter (something) tearfully; whine
(intransitive) to have a runny nose
an instance of snivelling
Derived Forms
sniveller, noun
snivelling, adjective, noun
snivelly, adjective
Word Origin
C14 snivelen; related to Old English snyflung mucus, Dutch snuffelen to smell out, Old Norse snoppa snout
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for sniveling



Old English *snyflan "to run at the nose" (cf. snyflung "running of the nose"), related to snofl "nasal mucus;" see snout. Meaning "to be in an (affected) tearful state" is from 1680s. Related: Snivelled; snivelling. As a noun from 14c. Melville coined snivelization (1849). Middle English had contemptuous term snivelard (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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