v. snapped, snap·ping, snaps
1. To make a brisk sharp cracking sound: "Logs snapped in the grate" (James Fox).
2. To break suddenly with a brisk, sharp, cracking sound.
a. To give way abruptly under pressure or tension: With so many people crowding onto the platform, its supports snapped.
b. To suffer a physical or mental breakdown, especially while under stress: feared that the troops would snap from fatigue.
4. To bring the jaws briskly together, often with a clicking sound; bite.
5. To take up something suddenly and eagerly; snatch or grasp: snap at a chance to go to China.
6. To speak abruptly or sharply: snapped at the child.
7. To move swiftly and smartly: snap to attention.
8. To flash or appear to flash light; sparkle: eyes that snapped with anger.
9. To open, close, or fit together with a click: The lock snapped shut. The jacket snaps in front.
1. To snatch at with the teeth or mouth; bite: The turtle snapped the lettuce from my hand.
2. To pull apart or break with a snapping sound.
3. To utter abruptly or sharply: The sergeant snapped out a command.
a. To cause to emit a snapping sound: snap a whip.
b. To close or latch with a snapping sound: snapped the purse shut.
5. To cause to move suddenly: "His head was snapped back by a sudden scream from the bed" (James Michener).
a. To take (a photograph).
b. To photograph: snapped the winner on the podium.
7. Football To pass (the ball) from the ground back between the legs to begin a down; hike.
1. A sudden sharp cracking sound or the action producing such a sound.
2. A sudden breaking.
3. A clasp, catch, or other fastening device that operates with a snapping sound.
4. A sudden attempt to bite, snatch, or grasp.
a. The sound produced by rapid movement of a finger from the thumb tip to the base of the thumb.
b. The act of producing this sound.
6. The sudden release of something held under pressure or tension.
7. A thin, crisp, usually circular cookie: a ginger snap.
a. Capacity to make a snapping sound; elasticity: This waistband has lost its snap.
b. Informal Briskness, liveliness, or energy.
9. A brief spell of brisk, cold weather.
10. Something accomplished without effort. See Synonyms at breeze1.
a. A snapshot.
b. The taking of a snapshot.
12. A snap bean.
13. Football The passing of the ball from the ground back through the legs to a back to initiate a play. Also called hike.
1. Made or done suddenly, with little or no preparation: a snap decision.
2. Fastening with a snap: snap pockets.
3. Informal Simple; easy: a snap assignment.
With a snap.
To recover quickly.
To pay attention or begin complying abruptly.
To acquire quickly: snapped up the tickets.
snap out of it Informal
To move quickly back to one's normal condition from an undesirable condition, such as depression, grief, or self-pity.
[Probably from Middle English snappe, a quick bite, probably from Middle Low German or Middle Dutch snappen, to seize, snap.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.