from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To sniffle.
  • intransitive verb To complain or whine tearfully.
  • noun The act of sniffling or sniveling.
  • noun Nasal mucus.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Mucus running from the nose; snot.
  • noun Figuratively, in contempt, weak, forced, or pretended weeping; hypocritical expressions of sorrow or repentance, especially in a nasal tone; hypocrisy; cant.
  • To run at the nose.
  • To draw up the mucus audibly through the nose; snuff.
  • To cry, weep, or fret, as children, with snuffing or sniveling.
  • Figuratively, to utter hypocritical expressions of contrition or regret, especially with a nasal tone; affect a tearful or repentant state.
  • To suffer to be covered, as the nose or face, with snivel or nasal mucus.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To run at the nose; to make a snuffling noise.
  • intransitive verb To cry or whine with snuffling, as children; to cry weakly or whiningly.
  • noun Mucus from the nose; snot.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb To breathe heavily through the nose; to sniffle.
  • verb To whine or complain, whilst crying.
  • noun the act of snivelling
  • noun nasal mucus; snot

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb talk in a tearful manner
  • noun the act of breathing heavily through the nose (as when the nose is congested)
  • verb snuff up mucus through the nose
  • verb cry or whine with snuffling
  • noun whining in a tearful manner


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English snivelen, from Old English *snyflan.]


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  • There are so many words for crying. In Danish we have 'flaebe', used condescendingly about someone who unjustly tries to attract sympathy. I thought 'snivel' had that specific meaning, but it seems not so. What is your impression?

    August 2, 2009