Definition of sniffle in US English:



[no object]
  • Sniff slightly or repeatedly, typically because of a cold or fit of crying.

    • ‘It's the big climactic chapter that had her first whimpering, then sniffling, and finally cheering.’
    • ‘I sighed in defeat and wiped away the remainder of my tears, sniffling.’
    • ‘She wiped her eyes, with the back of her hand, sniffling slightly, but as quietly as she could.’
    • ‘I gave her shoulder a squeeze and she put her head on my shoulder, sniffling slightly.’
    • ‘He was sniffling because of a cold and limping because of a back problem.’
    • ‘Suddenly her tears turned into sniffling, which grew into sobs that shook her whole body.’
    • ‘He sniffled slightly; he had been crying silent tears for what felt to be near two hours.’
    • ‘Well, there's nothing quite as common as a summer cold, sniffling and burbling and croaking about the place like a London taxi driver on a foggy night.’
    • ‘Catching his breath while sniffling up his tears, he sat down at the edge of the garden.’
    • ‘At the name of her son, the girl started sniffling, and fresh tears came to her eyes.’
    • ‘She nodded slightly and sniffled back some tears as she fell in behind him in a slow walk.’
    • ‘She then looked down and wiped her eyes with her hand and sniffled slightly.’
    • ‘Slightly reassured by this, the girl sniffled and wiped her tears away with the back of her hand.’
    • ‘She sat there, sniffling still with her cold, and wondered what on earth she was going to wear.’
    • ‘I started to turn away, making to get up and head to the restroom to find some tissue as I sniffled slightly.’
    • ‘Chris stops crying, sniffling through his nose to catch his breath again.’
    • ‘One woman was sniffling from a cold she had acquired during the morning.’
    • ‘My grandmother sniffled slightly as she bent down and set plastic flowers in the flower cup.’
    • ‘The drive home was a silent one, marked only by my sister sniffling loudly and elongated every twenty seconds.’
    • ‘I slipped my hand out of his and sniffling back tears I didn't even know I had, I rushed away.’
    snuffle, run at the nose, have a running nose, have a runny nose
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  • 1An act of sniffing because of a cold or crying.

    ‘he was restraining his sniffles rather well’
    • ‘There were a few times where hopes were found and then dashed, followed by sniffles throughout the audience.’
    • ‘She looked up as soon as the sounds of sniffles entered the room.’
    • ‘It was a mixture of strange choking sounds and long sniffles.’
    • ‘There were many sniffles heard in the rows in front of me by the end of the play.’
    • ‘I heard a sniffle, before Joey turned over to face me with a weak smile.’
    • ‘The only sound in the room apart from his sniffles was the sound of the clock on the wall ticking.’
    • ‘The only noise came from the hum of the tires on the highway and Lizzie's intermittent sniffles; she pulled herself up from the floor and stepped carefully into the front seat where Jake was staring intently at the road.’
    • ‘Then she heard a sniffle and turned right around and walked towards the back of the room.’
    • ‘Her breathing was coming easier, her sobs turning into sniffles.’
    • ‘‘Sorry,’ I muttered between sniffles as he looked down at his damp shirt.’
    • ‘I then heard a sound that was suspiciously like a sniffle.’
    • ‘When her sobs had turned to sniffles, she pulled back, looking up at him with frightened eyes.’
    • ‘The sobs were reduced to sniffles, and in silent wonderment, they looked at each other, together at last.’
    • ‘Jamie heard sniffles behind her and turned around on her heel and gave Beth a look of pity.’
    • ‘Bringing her hands up she wiped them away and looked up at him with a sniffle.’
    • ‘She sat up, dazed and confused, then, with a small sniffle and a larger smile, looked at her roommate.’
    • ‘The only sound was the light chatter of staff across the hall and the occasional sniffle and page turning from the man with the book in the doorway.’
    • ‘On the other line, she heard the sound of sniffles and muffled sobs.’
    • ‘I choked back another round of tears and listened for a sound between my sniffles.’
    • ‘We walked without a word for five minutes or so; the only sound heard being her occasional sniffle or stifle of a sob.’
    whine, cry, sniffle, snivel, sob, moan, bleat, mewl, wail, groan
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    1. 1.1 A head cold causing a running nose and sniffing.
      ‘she had a slight cough and a sniffle’
      ‘they may get damp and catch the sniffles’
      • ‘The sniffles turn into a really sore throat, you start to cough up green or yellow coloured phlegm and you begin to run a fever.’
      • ‘The tiny minority upset me when they feel they can't attend work because of a sniffle or a twinge.’
      • ‘Granted, the biggest problem is that the new bugs are almost invincible, but a contributing factor is the stubborn person who refuses to stay home just because of a little thing like a sniffle.’
      • ‘Whether it's rich chicken with dumplings to chase the sniffles away or zesty carrot, we've got it covered.’
      • ‘Drink a hot tea made from fresh ginger, garlic and cumin seed to cure the sniffles.’
      • ‘If you find yourself with a case of the sniffles that lasts longer than the average cold, you may be among the growing number of people who suffer from hay fever.’
      • ‘Even so, I'm prepared for a winter of the sniffles.’
      • ‘His father was ill, perhaps with the sniffles or maybe just a headache.’
      • ‘As it happens, I have been suffering with a rather persistent sniffle over the past week or so.’
      • ‘But I suppose some people don't turn up if they've just got a sniffle.’
      • ‘Searching for ways to fight against the sniffles leads to a healthier menu and that is definitely a plus any time of the year.’
      • ‘When word came that Iron Mike had been floored by a virulent attack of the sniffles, his disconsolate well-wishers had to shuffle off without meeting their thick-necked hero.’
      • ‘Why suffer with the sniffles when real relief from that cold is just a word away.’
      • ‘I popped a few Vitamin C tablets during the day and hoped the sniffles and sneezing would just go away.’
      • ‘In some families, colds and other viruses are rarely treated with anything more than chicken soup, while other families bring out over-the-counter medications at the first sign of a sniffle.’
      • ‘And before anyone says it, I'm not the sort of man who turns into a lump at the first sign of a sniffle, either.’
      • ‘A patient exhibiting a low-grade fever, sniffles, and a cough is most likely suffering from a common cold and not smallpox!’
      • ‘You get a flu shot every fall, take a daily multivitamin and load up on zinc as soon as the sniffles start.’
      • ‘Sure, I get sniffles and the odd cough, but nothing like this.’
      • ‘For workers who get paid by the hour, staying home with the sniffles is a pipe dream.’


Mid 17th century: imitative; compare with snivel.