Definition of snatch in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Quickly seize (something) in a rude or eager way.

    ‘she snatched a cookie from the plate’
    figurative ‘a victory snatched from the jaws of defeat’
    • ‘She shot back and leaned forward quickly, snatching the food from his hand.’
    • ‘Leon made a swipe for the gun, snatching it up quickly.’
    • ‘They caught up with him, dragged him, snatched the money box and started beating him up.’
    • ‘The man easily bends it, looks confused, and a flustered Geller quickly snatches the key back from him.’
    • ‘Dillyn tried to ignore the strange looks and wondered if it would be too rude to snatch the paper back and tell Gertrude to go to hell.’
    • ‘He had tried to help her but she had snatched her clothes quickly from his grasp and glared daggers at him at the same time.’
    • ‘Without a word, he snatched the bill and quickly corrected it telling me that his Mama must have made a mistake and he was very sorry.’
    • ‘The fruits that Ezzine wanted were on the other side of the table, and people were quickly snatching them up.’
    • ‘Derryn sat up with a jolt and snatched the shirt from the chair, quickly pulling it on.’
    • ‘Sheng attempted to snatch his licence back tearing its plastic cover in the process and refused to sign the ticket.’
    • ‘Disappointingly for him she snatched the pencil quickly before it could fall.’
    • ‘Isabelle reacted quickly, snatching his extended hand, pulling the boy back on solid land.’
    • ‘Raelynn quickly snatched the phone out of my hand, trying to force herself not to smile.’
    • ‘Kao quickly snatches the scroll from K'ai and opens it.’
    • ‘She quickly snatches the paper from Rachel's hand and mixes it into the disordered papers in the folder.’
    • ‘Heather would jump up from the floor, snatch off her apron in raging indignation.’
    • ‘Druid looks at the folder and quickly snatches it back.’
    • ‘‘She'll take them,’ R'kar said quickly, snatching the mug of water and the pills from Trakk before all hell could break loose.’
    • ‘Stacey quickly interposed as she snatched the trench coat away from Janet before she could put it on.’
    • ‘Burly runs at Crow, knife and arm raised, Crow easily side-steps the attack and snatches Burly's wrist twisting it around behind the wide man in a most unnatural position.’
    grab, seize, seize hold of, grab hold of, take hold of, lay hold of, lay hands on, lay one's hands on, get one's hands on, take, pluck
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    1. 1.1informal Steal (something) or kidnap (someone) by seizing or grabbing suddenly.
      ‘a mission to snatch Winston Churchill’
      • ‘Farrell didn't bother to fire the gun he'd borrowed when he snatched my client.’
      • ‘A thief reached a new low in street crime when he snatched a handbag from a 91 year-old woman as she sat in her mobile scooter.’
      • ‘Earlier this year, Lucy was pushed into a busy road by thieves who tried to snatch her mum's bag, as she sat helpless in her wheelchair.’
      • ‘Her nearside front window was smashed and the thief was able to snatch her briefcase containing her purse, mobile phone and credit cards.’
      • ‘A postbag thief snatched a sack containing hundreds of letters due to be delivered in Colchester.’
      • ‘Police were today searching for a thief who snatched hundreds of pounds from a busy shop in Walton.’
      • ‘Police are working on the theory that the plasterwork figure was snatched by a sneak thief.’
      • ‘Earlier this week we reported four violent robberies involving elderly women when thieves tried to snatch handbags.’
      • ‘A guard was hit with a metal bar as a bungling robber snatched an empty cash box.’
      • ‘Thieves snatched a car in which two children were sleeping today.’
      • ‘We were told how to make it much harder for thieves to snatch bags from our cars.’
      • ‘Supermarket manager Chris Baker gave chase after a thief snatched a bundle of notes from one of his tills on Tuesday afternoon.’
      • ‘Police still searching for the masked robbers who snatched the national treasures.’
      • ‘Minutes later as she was walking towards her bus stop in Great Moor Street Mrs Proctor was again targeted by a thief who tried to snatch her purse from her pocket again.’
      • ‘A thief on a motorbike snatched a handbag, containing £100, from an elderly woman.’
      • ‘A man was headbutted by thieves who snatched an electronic chess set.’
      • ‘A terrified woman and her six-year-old son had to lock themselves in the bathroom when car thieves broke in to snatch keys for three expensive cars.’
      • ‘The thief snatched the van's keys from a postman at 9.45 am in Wimborne Avenue, St Paul's Cray.’
      • ‘But police said as soon as the till was opened, one of the thieves reached over and snatched the money from it.’
      • ‘Thieves snatched a handbag from a house before driving off with the owners' car as the family slept.’
      steal, thieve, rob, take, pilfer, purloin, loot, rifle, abscond with, carry off
      abduct, kidnap, carry off, seize, capture, run away with, run off with, make off with, spirit away, hold hostage, hold to ransom, hijack
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    2. 1.2snatch atno object Hastily or ineffectually attempt to seize (something)
      ‘she snatched at the handle’
      • ‘A rough hand snatched at the harness on Sam's back.’
      • ‘Grypps stepped forward, and snatched at his upper arm, attempting to pull the young man to his feet.’
      • ‘I sat up in the bed furiously snatching at the sheet resulting in Charles falling off of the bed with a thud.’
      • ‘He tries to shirk her off, and still she snatches at his arm, holding on till he cringes with pleasure.’
      • ‘Each splutter sprayed scarlet beads over her ghost-white frame, and over Raven when Nelly snatched at her shoulders in an attempt to steady herself.’
      • ‘He began to pull away the blankets when Gwenddien snatched at a corner and shook her head.’
      • ‘She saw that the two were still staggering at the doorstep, snatching at the bottle, trying to finish off the beverage.’
      • ‘Then, suddenly she snatched at her neck and pulled the necklace off.’
      • ‘‘Wait here,’ he said in an undertone, but before he could run off, she snatched at his sleeve.’
      • ‘Justin hissed out, snatching at the boy's shirt.’
    3. 1.3 Quickly secure or obtain (something) when a chance presents itself.
      ‘we snatched a few hours' sleep’
      • ‘The stunning victory has shot Yorkshire up into third place and given them an outside chance of snatching the title but it left Lancashire firmly nailed to the bottom of the table with relegation now looking unavoidable.’
      • ‘The Scots lost their first two throws and the last one too, which gave England one last chance to snatch victory.’
      • ‘The hosts did have a late, late chance to snatch the win but Lax missed his penalty attempt four minutes into injury time.’
      • ‘While Sinn Fein's figures showed he had an outside chance of snatching the third seat, few, not least himself, expected him to walk away with it.’
      • ‘Jason Enright did have a chance of snatching a late equaliser but his effort from 40 metres and a difficult angle sailed wide of the posts as the final whistle greeted the kick-out.’
      • ‘Warriors had chances to snatch the glory, but couldn't find the penetration when it mattered most and they had to be content with a consolation bonus point.’
      • ‘The chance to snatch victory in the end was lost by Carlow Town as a shot for goal went narrowly wide.’
      • ‘The rain had turned the ball into a bar of soap, making open play a lottery, but Wasps had a late chance to snatch victory only for Joe Worsley to spill forward as he broke from the back of a scrum in the dying moments.’
      • ‘Windermere at last won decent possession and had a chance to snatch the win with the last move of the game, but turned back into heavy traffic instead of moving the ball wide to a waiting overlap and a certain score to win the game.’
      • ‘Both sides had chances to snatch victory in the 2nd half.’
      • ‘Blackadder will need to inspire something from Scotland's forwards since the Samoan match looks like the only realistic chance they have of snatching a test win this summer.’
      • ‘Within minutes, Paul O'Brien replaced Pat Fitzgerald in the front line and with his first touch he missed a great chance to snatch a goal.’
      • ‘Heriot's produced the stronger finish and Syme was held up over the line before Monro had a chance to snatch the narrow defeat bonus point from the visitors with a penalty from in front of the posts.’
      • ‘While the home side led all the way and understrength Wickow team always kept it close and had a chance of snatching an equalising goal in the dying seconds.’
      • ‘In the final minutes both sides had chances to snatch victory, with Ruddock coming close to a second and Condell producing a wonderful point blank save at the other end.’
      • ‘Chances to snatch the winner fell to Mortimer, Killeen and Murphy in turn, but all were off-target.’
      • ‘A Coleraine win was probably never in doubt, but the more Newry held them out in the cold and blustery conditions, the more Ralph felt they had a chance of snatching a point.’
      • ‘With the game petering out for a draw, City still had another golden chance to snatch a much-needed win and significantly it was created following some sharp passing to feet.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, Clare twice lost chances of snatching a draw after a David Forde point in the 66th minute left a single score between the sides.’
      • ‘With that went Drums' chance to snatch victory although both teams appeared satisfied at the final whistle with a point apiece.’
      achieve, secure, obtain, seize, pluck, wrest, scrape
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    4. 1.4snatch atno object Eagerly take or accept (an offer or opportunity)
      ‘I snatched at the chance’
      • ‘Well, I don't have a staff, but I can just about remember the words, thought Robert, his tortured mind snatching at the possibility of escape, however slim.’
      • ‘Having spent two months on loan at Bradford two years ago, Combe snatched at the opportunity to return to Valley Parade permanently at the beginning of last season, only for injury to stall his fresh start.’
      • ‘But the full back snatched at the opportunity and ballooned the ball well over the top.’
      • ‘Some telecoms experts familiar with the cable industry believe that NTL shareholders should snatch at an offer of $35 a share if Providence is willing to make it.’
      accept eagerly, jump at, take advantage of, grab, grab at, snap up, seize, seize on, grasp, grasp with both hands, pounce on, swoop down on
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  • 1An act of snatching or quickly seizing something.

    ‘a quick snatch of breath’
    • ‘There was a distinct element of evil in his grin as he ripped the plaster off in one quick snatch, taking a few small but exceedingly painful hairs with it.’
    • ‘A break from John Williams following a snatch from the scrum by Rick Greenwood near the Silsden posts caught Emley on the back foot.’
    1. 1.1 A short spell of doing something.
      ‘brief snatches of sleep’
      period, spell, time, fit, bout, interval, duration, season, term, stretch, span, phase, run
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    2. 1.2 A fragment of song or talk.
      ‘picking up snatches of conversation’
      • ‘The explosion jerked the hospital to life: wild footsteps reverberated from the ceiling, and Aidan heard snatches of frantic voices from above him.’
      • ‘Giants, dwarfs and Erda are only hinted at in snatches of musical motif.’
      • ‘Eric could just barely hear snatches of her little song as she hummed, and he wondered what song it was.’
      • ‘The man smiled to himself and began to sing a snatch of a song.’
      • ‘I was sitting on the desk staring out the window at the lights of Mainport and humming disjointed snatches of dimly remembered songs.’
      • ‘High-pitched laughter and low chuckles combined with the rise and fall of conversations caught in snatches.’
      • ‘Finally, in this book I have the full text of the snatches of songs my father sang while tinkering under the hood of his car, all the stanzas of ‘Jimmy Crack Corn’ and others.’
      • ‘Never your intention to harm them, you hum immaterial music, half-recalled snatches underneath your breath.’
      • ‘Joyce plays with the idea of musical sounds, with peals of girlish giggles, snatches of songs, ringing of bells and tapping of canes creating a symphony of noise.’
      • ‘Sometimes, he could pick up snatches of telepathic conversations between these strangers, but none of them had ever transmitted anything to him and he wondered if they were aware that a thirteen-year-old boy had sensed their presence.’
      • ‘Sometimes you hear a snatch of a song, and you just know you love it.’
      • ‘I could only pick up snatches of their conversation, and the only thing I could hear clearly was Mom asking them if they'd like anything to eat or drink.’
      • ‘Last night I caught just a snatch of it, an interview with an ancient black lady living in one of the squatter towns (informal settlements).’
      • ‘‘Guda’ uses the original dialect and snatches of songs of the Adivasis, perhaps for the first time in a film of this kind.’
      • ‘Bernie came across Overheard in Dublin, a site where readers send in snatches of conversation caught around town.’
      • ‘During these lessons, he came to know, between songs, in snatches of conversation, that Mr. Chatterjee had got his two-year extension at the helm of the company.’
      • ‘Even the poorest families haunt their neighbors' houses to catch snatches of government newscasts.’
      • ‘They talk and joke and sing snatches of popular songs.’
      • ‘Every few minutes one of the organisers would play a snatch of the song of the moment and the kids would dance around.’
      • ‘Then one of the techs is singing random snatches of songs all day, which sounds really endearing, but it's kind of distracting if you're not used to it.’
      • ‘Arabic is said to be a powerfully lyric language, so perhaps the above snatches lose something in translation.’
      • ‘The words of the song came back to me in snatches.’
      • ‘As he opened the door of the Wolesly I thought I heard a snatch of song from within - but it could have been their radio.’
      • ‘All through the opening fifteen minutes we catch ominous snatches of information about mysterious lightning storms in Europe.’
      fragment, snippet, smattering, bit, scrap, piece, part, extract, excerpt, portion, section, selection
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    3. 1.3informal A kidnapping or theft.
      • ‘The initiative has been introduced to make policing more effective in counteracting shoplifting, purse snatches, nuisance behaviour and other offences.’
      • ‘Police will launch a six-month crackdown on street crime on Monday to cut muggings and phone and bag snatches in Kingston.’
      • ‘Victim Support gives practical help and emotional support to victims of crime, from handbag snatches to burglaries, rape and killings.’
      • ‘Following a number of assaults, bag snatches and break-ins, the manager of the complex, David Peters, organised patrols of the area by uniformed private security guards.’
      • ‘Research by the Manchester-based Co-operative Group shows an overall rise in aggression against shop workers, along with increases in the use of weapons, till snatches and burglaries.’
      • ‘A quick snatch and grab and they were off, across the lawns to the West from which they had come.’
      theft, robbery, raid, ram raid, burglary, larceny, thievery, break-in, hold-up
      theft, robbery, stealing, thieving, larceny, thievery, robbing, pilfering, pilferage, purloining
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  • 2Weightlifting
    The rapid raising of a weight from the floor to above the head in one movement.

    • ‘We did a lot of power movements, like cleans, squats, snatches, deadlifts and bench presses.’
    • ‘As it approaches your shoulder, drive the weight straight overhead and catch it, as if performing a snatch.’
    • ‘In the ninth grade, he did snatches and cleans for five reps with 215 pounds and won a bench-press contest with a 305 lift, establishing familial connections in the process.’
    • ‘To execute the snatch, lift a weight off the floor and overhead in one smooth movement.’
    • ‘For six weeks, include higher-rep snatches, cleans and squats in your weight training.’
  • 3vulgar slang A woman's genitals.


Middle English sna(c)che (verb) ‘suddenly snap at’, (noun) ‘a snare’; perhaps related to snack.