Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SNAPPER, v.1, n.1 Also snappar, snaper. [′snɑpər]

I. v. 1. To stumble, to trip, to fall suddenly (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Ayr. 1923 Wilson D. Burns 186; Ork. 1929 Marw.; Sh., Bnff., Abd. 1970). Also fig. Also in n.Eng. dial. Sc. 1721  J. Kelly Proverbs 26:
A Horse with four Feet may snapper, by a time.
Rxb. a.1734  Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. (1913) 56:
If some glakit girl shou'd snapper.
Ayr. 1794  Burns Contented wi' Little iv.:
Blind chance, let her snapper and stoyte on her way.
Per. 1811  J. Sim Poems 29:
Its juice whiles sae o'ercomes the brain, That gar us snapper.
Sc. 1816  Scott B. Dwarf x.:
Wouldst thou [his horse] snapper now and break my neck?
Abd. a.1856  R. Ford Vagabond Songs (1904) 172:
There's mony a horse has snappert and fa'n, And risen and gane fu' rarely.
Sh. 1962  New Shetlander No. 63. 4:
Didna he snapper an guid gruiflins apon his face.

2. Transf. To make a slip in conduct, to err, to get into a scrape (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Obs. in Eng.

3. Absol. or with out: to blunder by uttering, to blurt out. Sc. 1699  Proper Project for Scot. 6:
Have a care of the Word Covenant (I had almost Snappered out with it in my Title Page).
Sc. 1745  R. Mackenzie John Brown (1918) 36:
That was a fell way of snapering.

II. n. 1. A stumble, a false step, a trip, a jolting motion (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Abd. 1970). Cai. 1904  E.D.D.:
Snapper: the jerking or the noise of a cart when passing over a road which has some loose stones on it.
Abd. 1951  Huntly Express (16 Feb.):
If your horse had made a false step (a snapper as farm folk say).

2. Fig., a slip in conduct, a mistake, blunder, fault, unfortunate accident (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 429); a predicament, a scrape. Sc. 1713  R. Wodrow Corresp. (1842) I. 421:
A senseless snapper of Cockburn some time since.
Sc. 1727  Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 196:
The generous Men of Sense will kindly praise us, And, if we make a little Snapper, raise us.
Sc. 1761  Session Papers, Petition J. Murray (27 July) 2:
He had never in his Life fallen into such a Snapper as this.
Sc. 1818  Scott H. Midlothian xx.:
Advocate Langdale has brought folk through waur snappers than a' this.
Slk. 1822  Hogg Perils of Man II. 43:
That body's mad! He'll lead us into some ill-faur'd snapper.
Ags. 1850  J. Myles Dundee Factory Boy (1877) 50:
They had both fallen into a “snapper,” as they called it, and had gone to the north to screen themselves from justice.
Fif. 1882  J. Simson Inverkeithing 39:
I would indeed have been in a “snapper,” had I thrown the unlucky stone.

3. A blunder in speech, slip of the tongue, fault of style. Sc. 1745  R. Mackenzie John Brown (1918) 36:
If I said speired, it was a snaper.
Abd. 1790  A. Shirrefs Poems 336:
Ane, like you, o' skilly ee, May mony a glim and snapper see.

[O.Sc. snapper, of a horse, 1497, to err, c.1460, to stumble, 1535, mishap, 1558, Mid.Eng. snapir, to stumble. Cf. Ger. (now dial.) schnapper, to limp, stumble. Cf. Snap, v., 5., n.1, 5.]

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"Snapper v.1, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Feb 2019 <>



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