Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


The snaking track might take up acres and acres of rich land.

Leaping on the old man he took him by the shoulders, snaking him.

Snaking over that fall was a thing to put a crimp in anybody.

Saw the world while snaking on my belly through the South Pacific.

The long, snaking hose filled and plumped out with snappings.

He crossed the floor with slinking, tigerish steps and snaking body.

In a few minutes the stout chain was snaking its way down through the blue-green ocean.

Long before midnight he was snaking his way noiselessly through the underbrush that surrounded the camp.

Douwes quitted Holland, snaking off her dust from his feet, and went to live at Wiesbaden.

Buck was snaking her along by the neck, and somebody had put a rope on one of her hind feet, and she was dragging that.


Old English snaca, from Proto-Germanic *snakon (cf. Old Norse snakr "snake," Swedish snok, German Schnake "ring snake"), from PIE root *sneg- "to crawl, creeping thing" (cf. Old Irish snaighim "to creep," Lithuanian snake "snail," Old High German snahhan "to creep"). In Modern English, gradually replacing serpent in popular use.

Traditionally applied to the British serpent, as distinguished from the poisonous adder. Meaning "treacherous person" first recorded 1580s (cf. Old Church Slavonic gadu "reptile," gadinu "foul, hateful"). Applied from 17c. to various snake-like devices and appliances. Snakes! as an exclamation is from 1839.

Snake eyes in crap-shooting sense is from 1919. Snake oil is from 1927. Snake-bitten "unlucky" is sports slang from 1957, from a literal sense, perhaps suggesting one doomed by being poisoned. The game of Snakes and Ladders is attested from 1907. Snake charmer is from 1813. Snake pit is from 1883, as a supposed primitive test of truth or courage; figurative sense is from 1941. Phrase snake in the grass is from Virgil's Latet anguis in herba [Ecl. III:93].


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.