Definition of snaffle in US English:



  • 1(on a bridle) a simple bit, typically a jointed one, used with a single set of reins.

    • ‘He let us put a snaffle bit in his mouth, but I could tell he didn't like it.’
    • ‘Only after the horse and human have progressed beyond the teaching phase the snaffle bit is introduced.’
    • ‘To learn the two track maneuver, use a martingale or a snaffle bit with draw reins to encourage the horse to flex through the poll and keep his head still.’
    • ‘If she got a little strung out, or she leaned a little on the snaffle bit, I simply applied a half-halt as if I was aboard a hunter or dressage horse and I had my perfect little jog.’
    • ‘Stubbs represents the hunt followers as having good, light hands and aiming to ride on a loose rein, taking only the lightest possible contact with their horses' mouths, and then only with small snaffle bits.’
    1. 1.1 A bridle with a snaffle bit.
      • ‘I used Penny's western bridle: a loose-ring, sweet iron snaffle with split reins and a long training fork or running martingale.’
      • ‘The horse should be fitted with a snaffle bridle, cavesson, roller or saddle, side reins and protection on all four legs, either boots or securely fitted bandages.’
      • ‘Notice the preponderance of single-rein snaffle bridles.’
      • ‘These horsemen rode with short stirrups, in snaffle bridles with a loose rein, in an uncollected, free forward manner that was the exact opposite of the extreme collection of the Continental riding school, with its emphasis on curb bits.’
      • ‘Those willing started bridling the horses in simple snaffles.’


[with object]British
  • Take (something) for oneself, typically quickly or without permission.

    ‘shall we snaffle some of Bernard's sherry?’
    • ‘Greenwood snaffled the ball at the front of a line out and sprinted 20 metres to open the second-half scoring.’
    • ‘Don't forget to snaffle a snack mid-afternoon, to maintain your glucose levels.’
    • ‘But what about Jeremy Paxman's book, Friends in High Places, that showed the best jobs are snaffled by those from public schools and elite universities?’
    • ‘If anyone has forgotten to pack their white shirt - a not uncommon occurrence, one member of the orchestra says - they have quickly snaffled a replacement.’
    • ‘More than half the tickets were quickly snaffled by Lions supporters.’
    steal, thieve, rob, take, purloin, help oneself to, abscond with, run off with, carry off
    View synonyms


Mid 16th century (denoting a bridle bit): probably from Low German or Dutch; compare with Middle Low German, Middle Dutch snavel ‘beak, mouth’. The verb (mid 19th century) is perhaps a different word.