Daily Archives: November 4, 2008


This word likes to hang about with comment and remark. But if someone were to target you with a snide remark, would you take it in stride? Would you cock a snook? The nasal sneering associated with this word comes straight out of the sn opening, so common in snuffling nose words; after that, it arcs with a rhyme of stride and glide and perhaps a scintilla of sly. There are many and varied ide words, however, all the way from bride and pride to chide and hide, so the end of the word is not what governs it; rather, the vowel takes its cue from the onset, not just the sn but other s+consonant words too: sty, sky, spry, snipe. The sound of the word may have moved it to where it is now, semantically; it emerged in the 19th century to mean sham, worthless, bogus, etc. Within a few decades, a person could be called snide, meaning cunning, sharp, mendacious, contemptible; from there, it was used for hypocrisy and malicious gossip; and by the 1930s we see it used to refer to slyly derogatory remarks. And where did it come from? Well, now, why would you think lexicographers would be able to tell you that?