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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 snivel
Historical Examples
  • This done, Mr. snivel draws from his pocket a copy of the forged papers, which are examined, and approved by every one present.

    An Outcast F. Colburn Adams
  • When the blows fell, he held his breath, but he did not snivel.

  • Why, I would maroon any of my crew who would cry and grovel and snivel when tied up for his three dozen.

    The Lady of Lynn Walter Besant
  • When the blows fell, he held his breath, but did not snivel.

    Winning His Way Charles Carleton Coffin
  • Mr. snivel points George to a table, at which he is soon seated.

    An Outcast F. Colburn Adams
  • I am so glad—But (Mr. snivel interrupts himself) never mind that!

    An Outcast F. Colburn Adams
  • Mr. snivel concludes hurriedly, and departs into the street, as our scene changes.

    An Outcast F. Colburn Adams
  • Mr. snivel perceives her agitation, and begs she will remain calm.

    An Outcast F. Colburn Adams
  • Mr. snivel will call this, the sublime quality of our chivalry.

    An Outcast F. Colburn Adams
  • Mr. snivel frets his fingers through his beard, and bows with an easy grace.

    An Outcast F. Colburn Adams
British Dictionary definitions for snivel


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 snivel

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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