v. sneaked or snuck (snŭk), sneak·ing, sneaks
1. To go or move in a quiet, stealthy way.
2. To behave in a cowardly or servile manner.
To move, give, take, or put in a quiet, stealthy manner: sneak candy into one's mouth; sneaked a look at the grade sheet.
1. A person regarded as stealthy, cowardly, or underhanded.
2. An instance of sneaking; a quiet, stealthy movement.
3. Informal A sneaker.
1. Carried out in a clandestine manner: sneak preparations for war.
2. Perpetrated without warning: a sneak attack.
[Probably akin to Middle English sniken, to creep, from Old English snīcan.]
Usage Note: Snuck is an Americanism first introduced in the 1800s as a nonstandard regional variant of sneaked. Snuck probably arose in imitation of the pattern set by stick/stuck and strike/struck. Widespread use of snuck in the United States has become more common with every generation. It is now used by educated speakers in all regions and was acceptable to 75 percent of the Usage Panel in our 2008 survey. This stands in marked contrast to the 67 percent that disapproved of snuck twenty years earlier. The more traditional form sneaked, which predominates in British English, is fully acceptable as well, with 90 percent approving it in 2008.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.