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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 snivelling
Contemporary Examples
  • Philip told Charles that Mountbatten was dead and it was no good “snivelling” about this fact.

Historical Examples
  • I want none of your pity, rejoined Haywood; keep your snivelling till it be your own turn.

  • Judy was snivelling and sobbing in the most woebegone manner.

    Jane Allen: Center Edith Bancroft
  • He stood over there beside you, snivelling into his red bandanna.

    The Maids of Paradise Robert W. (Robert William) Chambers
  • (He turns to Rada) Look here, my girl, where is the use of snivelling?

    Rada Alfred Noyes
  • Joe raised himself, snivelling, and commenced to revile Sam.

    The Huntress Hulbert Footner
  • And he was so manly and square about it all—no snivelling, no making a poor face.

    The Arm-Chair at the Inn F. Hopkinson Smith
  • She had seen Letty snivelling and dirty; Letty shamed and humiliated.

  • We can't have our holidays spoiled by these snivelling kids.'

    The Wouldbegoods E. Nesbit
  • Saw a lot of 'em snivelling over him at that tomb this morning.

    Bunker Bean Harry Leon Wilson
British Dictionary definitions for snivelling


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 snivelling

"mean-spirited, weak," 1640s, present-participle adjective from snivel (v.). Related: Snivellingly.



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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