Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A length of fine threadlike material, such as monofilament or gut, that connects a fishhook to a heavier line; a length of leader.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Active, brisk or nimble; Lively.
  • adj. Quick, sudden; Sharp.
  • adj. Quick-witted; Witty.
  • adj. Harsh; Severe.
  • n. A short line of horsehair, gut, monofilament, etc., by which a fishhook or lure is attached to a longer (and usually heavier) line.
  • v. To tie a hook to the end of a fishing line with a snell knot.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Active; brisk; nimble; quick; sharp.
  • n. A short line of horsehair, gut, etc., by which a fishhook is attached to a longer line.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Active; brisk; nimble; spirited.
  • Keen; piercing; sharp; severe; hard: as, a snell frost.
  • n. A short piece of gut, gimp, or sea-grass on which fishhooks are tied; a snood.
  • To tie or fasten to a line or gut, as a hook for angling.

Etymologies

Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English snell "quick, fast" from Old English snel, snell "lively, quick" from Proto-Germanic *snellaz (“active, swift, brisk”). Akin to Old Saxon snel, snell "active, strenuous" (Dutch snel), Old High German snel (whence German schnell "quick, swift", Italian snello "quick, nimble", Old French esnel, isnel "snell", and Occitan isnel, irnel "snell"), Old Norse snjallr "skillful, excellent". (Wiktionary)
Origin Unknown. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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