Word Origin & History
1889, the game and the word said to have been invented in India by British officers as a diversion from billiards. The name is perhaps an allusion (with reference to the rawness of play by a fellow officer) to British slang snooker "newly joined cadet" (1872). Tradition ascribes the coinage to Col. Sir
Neville Chamberlain (not the later prime minister of the same name), at the time subaltern in the Devonshire Regiment in Jubbulpore. The verb meaning "to cheat" is from early 1900s, probably because novices can be easily tricked in the game.