sniggering, snickering [snigger, snicker]

OhMan

Member
English, AUS
sniggering snickering, snigger, snicker

Is one wrong and one right? Are they used depending on different region? Do the words have identical meaning?

I thank you for your contributions.

Oh_Man.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Good question, Oh Man. I've heard both. I use "snicker". M-W's unabridged lists "snigger" as a variation of "snicker". M-W's collegiate version only lists "snicker". I'd call "snigger" a variant common in some dialects.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    In my experience, snicker is American and snigger is British. I've grown to like snigger better -- it just sounds a little more smirky and sarcastic. :) In most contexts, I believe their meaning is the same.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    They mean the same thing and are both listed in both American and British dictionaries. Snigger is simply a variant of snicker; the latter predates the former by about a century.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Snigger is simply a variant of snicker; the latter predates the former by about a century.
    Just on a point of detail:): the OED's earliest citation for snicker is
    1694 P. A. Motteux tr. Rabelais Wks. iv. lii, While he said this, the Maidens began to snicker at his Elbow, grinning, giggling and twittering among themselves.
    And its earliest citation for snigger is:
    1706 Phillips's New World of Words (ed. 6) , To Snicker or Snigger.
    Snicker always feels, to me, as if it involves a higher-pitched sound than snigger - I suppose that's because of snicker's other meaning 'whinny', a meaning which snigger does not have.
     

    OhMan

    Member
    English, AUS
    Thanks for the replies. I think I hear "snicker" a lot more then "snigger". Most of the literature I read and movies/TV shows I watch are American/British however, so I really can't comment much.

    "Snicker" just reminds me of the chocolate bar, and of derisive laughter, whereas "snigger" makes me think of the sound a horse makes.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    "Snicker" just reminds me of the chocolate bar, and of derisive laughter, whereas "snigger" makes me think of the sound a horse makes.

    You may already know that it's snicker for a horse, but considering their deep voices you would think snigger was closer, wouldn't you?
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    And its earliest citation for snigger is: 1706 Phillips's New World of Words (ed. 6) , To Snicker or Snigger.
    People may find Phillips's definition interesting:

    To Snicker or Snigger
    to laugh in one's sleeve.
    Phillip's New World of Words was published in London. That is, it reflects British English of the time.

    The idiom used as a definition may not be helpful to non-native speakers. Our dictionary has this definition under sleeve

    laugh up or in one's sleeve, to be secretly amused or contemptuous;
    laugh inwardly: to laugh up one's sleeve at someone's affectations.
    Note: I have given the definition of 'laugh up one's sleeve' to clarify the definition. If you want to discuss that idiom further, please see previous threads on up sleeve or start a new thread. Further discussion here would be off-topic.
     
    Top