"snickering her nolly"

Taivo

Senior Member
Estonian
Can anybody help me? I found this phrase in a book by T. Pratchett (a street urchin said: "... she caught me snickering her nolly...") Is it simply "stealing her stuff"?
 
  • Suehil

    Medemod
    British English
    Terry Pratchett makes up words - words and concepts. I'm afraid I don't remember what 'snickering her nolly' meant, but you might be able to infer it from something previously (or subsequently) mentioned in the book.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hello Taivo, and welcom to WordReference.
    You have truly excellent taste in modern literature.
    Could you tell us which of the master's books this quote comes from?
    OK - got it - Night Watch.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    The street urchin is described, within a few sentences, as being an adept pickpocket, so I expect snickering means to pickpocket. He was given a hard punch for his efforts by the lady. Nolly may be a word for something unspecified; the nature of which it is not necessary to know.
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Nolly is probably related to lolly, which is later slang for money. Snickering, now an American variant of sniggering, (to giggle foolishly) is here apparently a form of to sneak (move furtively).
     

    Suehil

    Medemod
    British English
    I'm with MM on this. Pratchett does not usually use variants of anything - he has his own vocabulary. If the boy was a pickpocket, then 'snickering' means picking pockets. I wouldn't be surprised if an explanation of 'nolly' appeared somewhere else in the book.
    I also agree (wholeheartedly) with Panj. Definitely a Master.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    Might this word not also be related to the verb "nick," with its BE meaning of "steal?" (Though it is, of course, Pratchett's own invention to use the word in this way.)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    TP will have made sure that the phrases he used appeared to be allusions to all kinds of other sources. Earlier in that chapter, Vimes and Nobby had a discussion about "street parly" including such terms as whizzing wipers, snitching tinklers, pulling wobblers, flogging tumblers, running rumbles and tottering nevils. Snickering nollies is just another one of those. Any, or all, or none, could be genuine :)
     
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