Printable Version
Pronunciation: snæk Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, verb

Meaning: 1. (Noun) A light or hurried repast, food suitable for such a repast eaten between meals. 2. (Noun, regional) A sudden snap, bite such as a dog might make. 3. (Verb) To eat a snack.

Notes: Snack comes with a small, close-knit family. A snack shop has been called a snackery and, in the Caribbean, a snackette. Someone who is snacking is, of course, a snacker.

In Play: Snacks play a significant role in human diets: "People who watch TV at mealtimes tend to eat more pizza and salty snacks and less fruit and vegetables than other families." We tend to carry the concept snack as far as possible: "You can find unusual snacks on the streets of Chinese cities, like fried duck heads, tarantulas, and scorpions."

Word History: In Middle English today's Good Word was spelled snacke, making the K before E subject to 'palatalization', converting it to CH, like Middle English kirrke became church everywhere but in Scotland. This change would convert snack to snatch, and a snack is something we often have to snatch. Both verbs refer to fast, unplanned actions. Around 1300 the word meant "to snap", as a dog might snap at someone. Our word is hardly a variant of snap, though odd things have happened over the course of the 5000 years since PIE, e.g. English courtesy > curtsy and fantasy > fancy. However, even if the origin of this word were snap, we know just as little about the origin of this word. (Now let's thank newcomer Mike Nichols of Columbus, Georgia, for serving today's Good Word snack.)

Dr. Goodword,

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