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

  • intransitive v. To sniffle.
  • intransitive v. To complain or whine tearfully.
  • intransitive v. To run at the nose.
  • n. The act of sniffling or sniveling.
  • n. Nasal mucus.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • n. Mucus running from the nose; snot.
  • n. Figuratively, in contempt, weak, forced, or pretended weeping; hypocritical expressions of sorrow or repentance, especially in a nasal tone; hypocrisy; cant.

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

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