[snap-hans, -hahns]
an early flintlock mechanism for igniting a charge of gunpowder in a gun.

1580–90; < Dutch snaphaan (or German Schnapphahn) orig., highwayman, equivalent to snap(pen) to snatch, snap + haan rooster (Dutch haan, German Hahn, parallel to cock1, mean both “rooster” and “hammer of a firearm”); source of final s unclear Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Those not familiar with firearms technology may incorrectly identify a snaphaunce as a flintlock.
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