sniggering, snickering [snigger, snicker]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by OhMan, Feb 15, 2011.

  1. 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.

  2. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    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.
  3. Copyright

    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.
  4. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    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.
  5. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    The Concise Oxford does note that snigger is chiefly British.
  6. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    British English
    I have only come across 'snicker' in American sources. It's the name of a chocolate bar here- strange name.

  7. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    Snickers, actually: In 1930, the Mars family introduced its second product, Snickers, named after their favorite horse.

    It still may make you snigger (he said, reining his horse in the direction of the topic).
  8. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    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.
  9. pickarooney

    pickarooney Senior Member

    Provence, France
    English (Ireland)
    I use snigger unless there's an overzealous swear filter in place which turns snigger into s******.
  10. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    OhMan, what do you hear in Australia? Snigger or snicker?
  11. 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.
  12. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    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?
  13. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    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.
  14. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    I've always assumed that this is simply a UK/US varient like pavement/sidewalk. Snigger is British, snicker American. The meaning is identical.
  15. ain'ttranslationfun? Senior Member

    US English
    Good point, Copy; I wonder what the contexts in the shows Oh Man watched down under (six years ago) were? < --- >

    < Off topic comment removed. Cagey, moderator >
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2017

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