Definition of sneak in English:



  • 1 Move or go in a furtive or stealthy manner.

    ‘I sneaked out by the back exit’
    • ‘Anyone trying to sneak out a few minutes early will be hard pressed to leave before the ‘real’ ending.’
    • ‘If he could sneak past anyone lingering in the hallway, he'd be in the clear to read any file he liked.’
    • ‘Somehow, they managed to sneak in without anyone noticing them.’
    • ‘She grinned as she began sneaking stealthily up on a boy her age sitting on the picnic table under the large oak tree the school was built around.’
    • ‘They also had searchlights encase anyone tried to sneak out during the night.’
    • ‘As her group moved forward, she snuck behind a building and waited for the footsteps of her group to fade away.’
    • ‘She sneaks upstairs and moves through the hall way to her room.’
    • ‘They snuck stealthily down the street until they came to a store.’
    • ‘I couldn't think of why anyone would be sneaking around; I was already pretty much helpless as far as they were concerned.’
    • ‘She doesn't have to sneak out, beat anyone up, or anything like that.’
    • ‘They stealthily sneak back onto the path, not talking as they walk to the town.’
    • ‘A few stragglers return from lunch, and the April afternoon clouds are too threatening to tempt anyone to sneak out for an early tee time.’
    • ‘All the missions you're sent on involve sneaking around, stealing, kidnapping and killing without being detected.’
    • ‘But if you are a chameleon, you can sneak in and move ahead with the furtiveness required in one-day cricket.’
    • ‘He flattened underneath window and used his stealth power to sneak around to the back.’
    • ‘At least they managed to sneak in actual ballet moves and some of Tchaikovsky's music, so it isn't a total loss.’
    • ‘Similarly, fortifying border patrols to thwart anyone from sneaking in won't do much.’
    • ‘In the run-up to the finals, police at airports, rail stations and ports will be on the look-out for anyone trying to sneak to Portugal.’
    • ‘But it's also just as much about sneaking, stealth, hiding, and disguising.’
    • ‘One extreme is to take your time to plan, be stealthy and sneak around in the dark to avoid all confrontation.’
    creep, slink, steal, slip, slide, sidle, edge, move furtively, tiptoe, pussyfoot, pad, prowl
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[with object]Convey (someone or something) in a furtive or stealthy way.
      ‘someone sneaked a camera inside’
      • ‘If this significant other is not from said hostel then sneaking her in is quite a problem.’
      • ‘If you're riding a hold-up horse or a doubtful stayer you have to sneak him round, taking the shortest route around the inside and keeping him as relaxed and switched-off as possible.’
      • ‘I later learned that if he had kept quiet about having the puppy, my dad could have snuck her onto the plane with him.’
      • ‘Anna sneaks us onto the tube with her pass, something I would never do when sober.’
      • ‘So, you know, to sneak someone onto a cruise ship, that would be almost an impossibility.’
      • ‘I hoped that lofty ambition alone might sneak me through to the finals.’
      • ‘I snuck him some of my food, and he thanked me, but he only ate it to please me I think.’
      • ‘I sneaked her across to the west wing of the mansion, and up the flight of stairs.’
      • ‘She had forced me on a veggie diet, but every night, Robert snuck me some real food.’
      • ‘He got the backing of a church and they sneaked him out of the country, disguised as a priest.’
      • ‘However, the little fool went and evaded us all and snuck you away to his old home.’
      • ‘The nurse sneaked me biscuits which are still in my bag.’
      • ‘But the good bit was, my uncle and aunty were there, and they snuck us into the VIP area.’
      • ‘Mom would sneak me into all sorts of contests for kids like me.’
      • ‘I'm glad I snuck him some steak juice off the plate tonight.’
      • ‘I agreed and we snuck him down the hallway and into his room.’
      • ‘My parents use to sneak me into jazz clubs when I was underage’
      • ‘I would just pay someone to sneak me across the Mexican border.’
      • ‘I'm not entirely sure how we ended up back in my room, how I snuck him there, but we did, and no one else was in there.’
      • ‘My parents had to hide me for 3 years before they snuck me out of the country.’
      bring surreptitiously, take surreptitiously, bring secretly, take secretly, bring illicitly, take illicitly, smuggle, spirit, slip
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2[with object]Do or obtain (something) in a stealthy or furtive way.
      ‘she sneaked a glance at her watch’
      • ‘All he could see was this fake white beard and tell from certain furtive movements that Grampa was trying to sneak a peek at him without being noticed.’
      • ‘I glanced at the nervous looking boy who kept on sneaking glanced towards Marah.’
      • ‘She noticed me looking from the other side of the bar, smiled shyly and blushed, before sneaking another glance my way as she turned her back.’
      • ‘This is a conservative measure because it assumes the nesting male does not obtain any fitness from sneaked spawns.’
      • ‘As we ate, I sneaked one or two discreet glances at him.’
      • ‘Raymond glanced up from his plate, sneaking a peek at Amy before moving his eyes towards Lana.’
      • ‘Her voice died out and she snuck a glance back toward the wanderer, his eyes were still on the road ahead showing no expressions.’
      • ‘He put an arm around Ashley and led her away, sneaking a glance back at the pillar to make sure that Britney got away without being seen.’
      • ‘If we got the penalty or a goal somewhere we might have sneaked a draw, and if we had got our backsides out of it we would have learned so much again and it would have been great but it wasn't to be.’
      • ‘Another intense rally opens the third game of the set and the American just sneaks the point.’
      • ‘My legs have become fidgety and my glance goes against my own will as it sneaks its way in his direction.’
      • ‘She continued to read silently, her eyes glancing upwards to sneak a peek at Zach.’
      • ‘He stands there nodding to every word Mrs. Miller says while sneaking glances around the office, searching for someone to take his place.’
      • ‘Then it continued to be somewhat smoke free as she snuck cigarettes outside or in the garage.’
      • ‘He resumed his eye-search of the room, and snuck a glance back at the short blonde girl he'd noticed earlier.’
      • ‘As I passed the house a third and final time, I managed to sneak a peek through the gap in the trees.’
      • ‘That means they won't be able to sneak wins with a single goal.’
      • ‘I sneaked a look at her and saw the utter disappointment in her face.’
      • ‘From this new position, he sneaks covert glances across the aisle at her soft profile.’
      • ‘Maybe I could sneak them the key, but how would I obtain it?’
      snatch, take a furtive …, take a stealthy …, take a surreptitious …, get furtively, get stealthily, get surreptitiously, steal
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3Creep up on (someone) without being detected.
      ‘he sneaks up on us slyly’
      • ‘The wine snuck up on me - I was sober, then all of a sudden, I was tipsy.’
      • ‘The color deadline, the first major one of our production, snuck up on us and my managing editor, chief designer, and yours truly had no choice but to take over and get it done.’
      • ‘Of course she didn't expect to be snuck up on by the one guy she thought she would never see again.’
      • ‘I mean, I remembered, but the planning had started so long ago that the fact that our trip date was finally here kind of snuck up on me.’
      • ‘We carefully snuck up on the enemies, creeping through the backyards of each house.’
      • ‘He could barely contain his annoyance at being sneaked up on.’
      • ‘It's one of those things that kind of sneaks up on you.’
      • ‘It was not like if I snuck up on him I could capture him and suddenly he would want to be my dad again.’
      • ‘I guess I sort of knew that, but also it sort of snuck up on me.’
      • ‘There are moments that the infantry can be sneaked up on and dispatched without even twitching.’
      • ‘The panic sneaks up on me like an evil clown, just jumps out of the bushes and yells BOO!’
      • ‘He smiled slightly, fairly incredulous that he had been able to sneak up on most of the archers completely unnoticed.’
      • ‘When it came to the scariest part, her brother snuck up on us.’
      • ‘What was with all these creeps sneaking up on me?’
      • ‘It snuck up on us all at the last minute, which was the perfect way to discover it.’
      • ‘I also liked that you had to be in step with someone you were sneaking up on if you wanted to pull off a brutal move.’
      • ‘A slightly bigger sister snuck up on him and shoved him with a punch towards his intended victim.’
      • ‘As so often, life snuck up on me and reminded me that I had a very busy week as it was.’
      • ‘All of those things made me smile, but the most wonderful thing that's happened to me recently snuck up on me without any warning.’
      • ‘She wondered if it was better to know, or better to be snuck up on.’


  • 1A furtive and contemptible person.

    ‘he was branded a prying sneak for eavesdropping on intimate conversation’
    • ‘He was seducing her, the sneak, and she couldn't seem to summon the willpower to do anything about it.’
    • ‘In fact I've had a hunch that I'm actually being a sneak somehow and I don't like it.’
    • ‘Only then did I start to really get mad at him for being such a sneak, such a liar.’
    • ‘He, conversely, was portrayed as a sneak for his cowardly yet disrespectful and defiant attitude towards the United States.’
    • ‘It sounds like something only a sneak would do, but I can't not do it.’
    • ‘Junkies are three things: liars, hypocrites and sneaks.’
    • ‘It meant that heels of Owen's type, the cowardly sneak, were wearing thin.’
    • ‘This procedure tells the students that the teacher is more than likely to be a cheat and a sneak, who will cook the books if given a chance.’
    • ‘I won't hide a murderer and I won't tolerate a liar and a sneak on my ship.’
    • ‘It isn't that I'm a sneak, it's just that I don't want Laura getting too cross and I can see signs of trouble appearing.’
    • ‘Apparently, the word of mouth from the sneaks was just awful.’
    • ‘So, it's the nurses fault that he is such a successful sneak?’
    • ‘He'd set traps all around the place specifically to catch a sneak.’
    • ‘There is one reform that actually stops these sneaks.’
  • 2North American

    short for sneaker
    • ‘Of note is the use of red and blue cammo on the scuff pads and in the lining of the sneaks.’
    • ‘Truth is, these sneaks can take you from the gym to a night out on the town, as long as you know how to wear them.’
    • ‘I kick off my flip-flops and slide into shorts and sneaks.’
    • ‘Grab your sneaks and head outside, or use the school gym if it's allowed.’
    • ‘Duncan just doesn't have the kind of game that sells shoes except to that hopeless niche of kids who think new sneaks will help them issue crisp bounce passes and box out for offensive rebounds.’
    • ‘All those flouncy skirts, matching tops, jazzy sneaks, and bouncy hairdos are enough to lure even the laziest girl off the couch.’
    • ‘Some like high-cut sneaks while others prefer low-cut ones.’
    • ‘I put on a sleeveless white top, black cargos, and white sneaks.’
    • ‘But you'll find yourself admired, too, if you wear one while in your sweats and sneaks while out running errands.’
    • ‘She traded the sneaks with the red flashing lights in the heels for a pair of jeans, clear fingernail polish, and sandals.’
    • ‘Add a sweater, a tank or a tee, and sneaks, and you'll have many different looks with just one great skirt!’


  • [attributive] Acting or done surreptitiously, unofficially, or without warning.

    ‘a sneak thief’
    ‘a sneak preview’
    • ‘But while getting a sneak preview of new songs is pretty neat, there's enough familiar material to keep the sold-out crowd happy.’
    • ‘Is winter finally over, or is this just a sneak preview?’
    • ‘Friday's first snapshots amounted to a sneak preview.’
    • ‘Many who saw the new models at a sneak preview will have been surprised by the changing interface between driver and machine.’
    • ‘The media at the curtain-raiser press meet on Thursday had a sneak preview of three designs - armlet, hair ornament and a necklace.’
    • ‘To all of you who have been patiently waiting, we are opening our doors for a sneak preview of our fantastic new space from December 20th through’
    • ‘I'm not ready to go to market yet but if any of the readers who've been urging me to start off down this route would like a sneak preview, this is what the individual pages are liable to look like.’
    • ‘But existing members will get a sneak preview tonight.’
    • ‘Am I allowed a sneak preview of the next one, I ask?’
    • ‘More than 140 have asked for a sneak preview on 18 April.’
    • ‘Guests in attendance will get a sneak preview of original material from Pete's up and coming debut album, and Chris will entertain with melodic and dulcet tones.’
    • ‘Police in North Yorkshire today issued a warning to residents to be on guard for sneak thieves during the hot weather.’
    • ‘As a sneak preview, I offer a song that has been up on my site for quite a while (and will remain on the site for the foreseeable future).’
    • ‘Albert the pigeon is also fitted with a handy recording device. He managed to sneak through the open window of their rehearsal studio to record this sneak preview of one of their tracks.’
    • ‘The evening offers Shakespeare aficionados a sneak preview of the summer program, which is slated to include The Comedy of Errors as well.’
    • ‘A sneak preview of the athlete's revealing interview is coming up.’
    • ‘Since then I've received a newsletter every few months, and the occasional free ticket to see a sneak preview of an upcoming film.’
    • ‘We will explore that idea and give you a sneak preview on Monday.’
    • ‘I've been listening to some fantastic new music from my favourite songwriter, a sneak preview of his new album, and so that has brightened my mood considerably.’
    • ‘Come for a sneak preview on our initial findings!’
    furtive, secret, stealthy, sly, surreptitious, clandestine, covert
    private, quick, surprise
    View synonyms


The traditional standard past form of sneak is sneaked (she sneaked around the corner). An alternative past form, snuck (she snuck past me), arose in the US in the 19th century. Until very recently, snuck was confined to US dialect use and was regarded as nonstandard. However, in the last few decades, its use has spread in the US, where it is now regarded as a standard alternative to sneaked in all but the most formal contexts. In the Oxford English Corpus, there are now more US citations for snuck than there are for sneaked, and there is evidence of snuck gaining ground in British English as well


Late 16th century: probably dialect; perhaps related to obsolete snike to creep.