Definition of snag in English:



  • 1An unexpected or hidden obstacle or drawback.

    ‘the picture's US release hit a snag’
    • ‘The Times-Metro deal hit a snag in January, when the Justice Department announced it was investigating possible antitrust ramifications.’
    • ‘The Martha Stewart trial hit a snag when defense lawyers and prosecutors withheld a key document from them.’
    • ‘Tory Euro hopeful Ian Bruce said the 50 per cent total could be hit by Thursday night, despite postal votes being affected by a series of snags including late delivery in Elvington and confusion over new vote forms.’
    • ‘Here's where I hit my first snag - The lid of the dumpster had been chained shut!’
    • ‘If small things seem torturous, listen to what they're telling you - use those nagging little snags as clues to negotiating what you want.’
    • ‘However the scheme hit a snag in the narrow streets, lanes and yards of Saltaire where residents have found there just is not room for two bins.’
    • ‘I believe that in mental health care however, we potentially hit a bigger snag in trying to creatively doubt what we do.’
    • ‘The only snag was my season ticket wasn't valid on their network.’
    • ‘Plans to scrap a toxic ‘ghost fleet’ of former United States Navy ships in Britain hit a snag yesterday when it emerged that new planning permission might be needed.’
    • ‘But there was a snag - there was no natural harbour, and Carrington surmised that building one would be at considerable expense.’
    • ‘Transfer of the Garden City Lands to Richmond hit a snag last week after the Musqueam First Nation received a temporary court injunction preventing the move.’
    • ‘I hit my first snag when I managed to burr one of the screws, which made it impossible to remove the arm at all!’
    • ‘However the Government's plans to address the problem have hit a snag, with the newly appointed coordinator quitting before his job has even begun.’
    • ‘Plans for a massive renovation of Hong Kong's ageing public housing estates have hit a snag with most tenants at one estate staunchly opposed to the idea.’
    • ‘Stars' glorious start to the season has hit a slight snag lately with a couple of draws, while their closest rival, Ballina, continues to string together victories.’
    • ‘Golf simulations have hit a snag in recent years, as very few of them have shown the ability to significantly improve on versions from previous years.’
    • ‘Though originally slated in Vancouver's bid book as the site for the project, the university hit a snag early on in its plans to secure enough cash to cover its portion of the capital costs.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, this morning the plan hit a snag when none of them actually turned up.’
    • ‘When he was discharged in 1946, he began arranging for Harry James, but his career hit a snag when bebop, an intellectual genre that he rebuffed, became the rage.’
    • ‘I had recorded an album for the Uni label that hit snags in the production dept because Mike Post had asked to produce a couple of sides and they came off like TV music so the album never got released.’
    obstacle, difficulty, complication, catch, hitch, stumbling block, pitfall, unseen problem, problem, issue, barrier, impediment, hindrance, inconvenience, setback, hurdle, disadvantage, downside, drawback, minus
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  • 2A sharp, angular, or jagged projection.

    ‘keep an emery board handy in case of nail snags’
    • ‘We found that larger snags had indeed higher densities of wood-boring beetle larva entrance holes than smaller snags.’
    • ‘When I raised my binoculars to a snag, or jagged top, of a broken, burned-out tree, I found myself locked in a gaze with a female on her nest.’
    • ‘Eventually, I spotted a bird perched atop a snag far below me.’
    sharp projection, jag, jagged bit
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    1. 2.1A rent or tear in fabric caused by a sharp or jagged projection.
      • ‘A blunt needle can cause snags, holes or runs in seams and topstitching.’
      • ‘You need to point out to your cleaner all stains, fabric pills, snags, minor repairs, and also point out style nuances, for instance, if you want your collar to stand up or you wear the cuffs rolled up.’
      • ‘Knits and other stretchy fabrics are an open invitation to snags.’
      • ‘To avoid snags, always begin projects with a new needle in a size compatible to the fabric weight.’
      tear, rip, rent, ladder, run, hole, gash, slash, slit
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  • 3North American A dead tree.

    • ‘Weak cavity excavators, chickadees nest in hardwood snags, dead limbs, or knot-holes of live trees.’
    • ‘Even in the relatively rare event that a fire does kill an old-growth stand, the remaining trees and snags provide valuable nesting habitat for large birds of prey and other forest species.’
    • ‘In some cases, trees older than those fires were observed but because the pine snags were younger I assume that these older trees survived the fire.’
    • ‘Within habitats, forestry must ensure heterogeneity with the retention of snags, remnant trees, woody debris, and a more natural variety of tree species.’
    • ‘The crossdating of white cedar and jack pine snags was accomplished using previously developed chronologies from the same area.’


  • 1 Catch or tear (something) on a projection.

    ‘thorns snagged his sweater’
    • ‘It's just slightly bigger than a Fig Newton with two tire irons snapped to the side, with no sharp edges or protruding tools to snag jersey pockets or cut spare tubes.’
    • ‘A branch snagged his shirt sleeve, and he tore a hole as he yanked himself free.’
    • ‘The girl ducked this time, but the bird still managed to snag the strap of her tank-top, tearing it.’
    • ‘He sat down next to the boy and snagged his bag of chips, tearing it open.’
    • ‘As the dealer points to the 3rd baseman, she accidentally snags her hole card on her sleeve and flips it face up.’
    tear, rip, ladder, gash
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    1. 1.1[no object]Become caught on a projection.
      ‘radio aerials snagged on bushes and branches’
      • ‘Mr Metcalf, who was based at Ramsbottom Fire Station, dived for the boy but his rope became snagged on an underwater branch and he became submerged himself.’
      • ‘By rounding off all sharp edges, the gun does not snag when drawn or holstered.’
      • ‘Fishing over and around structures often will produce results when you cannot catch fish elsewhere, although fishing lures may become snagged on structures and lost.’
      • ‘Divers have become lost inside the wreck or fouled on loose cables or caught by fishing nets snagged on the hull and drowned at the bottom.’
      • ‘Be careful sending up line from depth as there is a chance of it snagging.’
      hook, jag
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    2. 1.2North American informal Catch or obtain (someone or something)
      ‘it's the first time they've snagged the star for a photo’


Late 16th century ( snag): probably of Scandinavian origin. The early sense stump sticking out from a tree trunk gave rise to a US sense submerged piece of timber obstructing navigation of which sense 1 is originally a figurative use. Current verb senses arose in the 19th century.