Word of the Week 3 – Snuck

‘Snuck’ is sometimes used as the past tense of the verb ‘to sneak’. But ‘sneak’ is regular, which means the past tense is ‘sneaked’.

So where has ‘snuck’ sneaked in from?

I believe it was originally used in a humorous way by people who were well aware of what they were doing. A cartoon cat might use it – Sylvester, for example – while a bishop would not.

Another example of this process occurs in the phrase ‘Who’d have thunk it?’ Everyone knows the past tense is actually ‘thought’.

But ‘snuck’ has been used so often that some people are now accepting it as the correct past tense of ‘sneak’. I came cross ‘snuck’ very recently in the Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann and it was not used in humorous way.

So it may be that humorists, like everyone else, can alter the course of language.

 

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5 thoughts on “Word of the Week 3 – Snuck

  1. I like this particularly in it’s humorous version, as my father would play with language like this every day. As a child I was never quite certain which was the right version… e.g. ‘Thruff the iron gates of life’ but I loved the flexibility and the idiocy of spelling and tenses.

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  2. I quite like the word “thunk” and I sometimes use it, just to amuse myself. To me, it sounds old and rustic, and I like old and rustic. I suppose language has its own evolutionary course. To be honest, I don’t understand most words kids say these days.

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    • I like old and rustic too, except when it’s not really old at all, like the ‘Ye’ in ‘Ye Olde Englishe Tea Shoppe’. But we can’t win them all.

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