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

  • transitive v. To inhale (something) audibly through the nose; sniff.
  • transitive v. To sense or examine by smelling; sniff at.
  • intransitive v. To sniff; inhale.
  • n. The act of snuffing or the sound produced by it; a snuffle.
  • n. The charred portion of a candlewick.
  • transitive v. To extinguish: snuffed out the candles.
  • transitive v. To put a sudden end to: lives that were snuffed out by car accidents.
  • transitive v. Slang To kill; murder.
  • transitive v. To cut off the charred portion of (a candlewick).
  • n. A preparation of finely pulverized tobacco that can be drawn up into the nostrils by inhaling. Also called smokeless tobacco.
  • n. The quantity of this tobacco that is inhaled at a single time; a pinch.
  • n. A powdery substance, such as a medicine, taken by inhaling.
  • intransitive v. To use or inhale snuff.
  • idiom up to snuff Informal Normal in health.
  • idiom up to snuff Informal Up to standard; adequate.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Finely ground or pulverized tobacco intended for use by being sniffed or snorted into the nose.
  • n. Fine-ground or minced tobacco, dry or moistened, intended for use by placing a pinch behind the lip or beneath the tongue; see also snus.
  • n. A snort or sniff of fine-ground, powdered, or pulverized tobacco.
  • n. The act of briskly inhaling by the nose; a sniff, a snort.
  • n. Resentment or skepticism expressed by quickly drawing air through the nose; snuffling; sniffling.
  • n. Snot, mucus.
  • n. Smell, scent, odour.
  • v. To inhale through the nose.
  • n. The burning part of a candle wick, or the black, burnt remains of a wick (which has to be periodically removed).
  • n. Leavings in a glass after drinking; heel-taps.
  • n. Pertaining to a form of pornographic film which involves someone's actually being murdered.
  • v. To extinguish a candle or oil-lamp flame by covering the burning end of the wick until the flame is suffocated.
  • v. To kill a person; to snuff out.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The part of a candle wick charred by the flame, whether burning or not.
  • n. The act of snuffing; perception by snuffing; a sniff.
  • n. Pulverized tobacco, etc., prepared to be taken into the nose; also, the amount taken at once.
  • n. Resentment, displeasure, or contempt, expressed by a snuffing of the nose.
  • intransitive v. To inhale air through the nose with violence or with noise, as do dogs and horses.
  • intransitive v. To turn up the nose and inhale air, as an expression of contempt; hence, to take offense.
  • transitive v. To crop the snuff of, as a candle; to take off the end of the snuff of.
  • transitive v. To draw in, or to inhale, forcibly through the nose; to sniff.
  • transitive v. To perceive by the nose; to scent; to smell.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To draw in through the nose with the breath; inhale: as, to snuff the wind; to snuff tobacco.
  • To scent; smell; take a sniff of: perceive by smelling.
  • To examine by smelling; nose: said of an animal.
  • To inhale air vigorously or audibly, as dogs and horses.
  • To turn up the nose and inhale air, as in contempt or anger; sniff disdainfully or angrily.
  • To smell; especially, to smell curiously or doubtfully.
  • To take snuff into the nose. Compare to dip snuff, under dip, v. t.
  • To crop the snuff of, as a candle; take off the end of the snuff from.
  • In currying, to smooth or put out with a sleeker. See to put out , under put, intransitive verb
  • n. Inhalation by the nose; a sniff; also, a pinch of snuff.
  • n. Smell; scent; odor.
  • n. Offense; resentment; huff, expressed by a sniffing.
  • n. A powdered preparation of tobacco taken into the nostrils by inhalation.
  • n. In therapeutics, any powder with medicinal properties to be snuffed up into the nose.
  • n. The burning part of a candle- or lamp-wick, or the part which has been charred by the flame, whether burning or not.
  • n. A candle almost burnt out, or one having a heavy snuff.
  • n. In mining, same as smift.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. sniff or smell inquiringly
  • n. the charred portion of a candlewick
  • n. a pinch of smokeless tobacco inhaled at a single time
  • n. sensing an odor by inhaling through the nose
  • v. inhale audibly through the nose
  • adj. snuff colored; of a greyish to yellowish brown
  • n. finely powdered tobacco for sniffing up the nose


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

Middle English snoffen, to snuff a candle, sniffle, probably from snoffe, snuff; see snuff2.
Middle English snoffe, possibly of Low German origin.
Dutch snuf, short for snuftabak : Dutch snuffen, to sniff; see snuffle + tabak, tobacco.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

This definition is lacking an etymology or has an incomplete etymology. You can help Wiktionary by giving it a proper etymology.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Origin uncertain.



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  • “When asked the whereabouts of the campus bookstore, a university student who replied ‘There’s a great show about California condors on Channel 4 tonight’ would certainly cause raised eyebrows, though you couldn’t point to ungrammatical English as the culprit. The student’s grammatical competence would appear to be fine, but his or her communicative competence would seem not up to snuff.�? – Language: Its Structure and Use by Edward Finegan

    October 15, 2009

  • SPIES, you are lights in state, but of base stuff,

    Who, when you've burnt yourselves down to the snuff,

    Stink, and are thrown away. End fair enough.

    - Ben Jonson, 'To Fool, Or Knave'.

    July 28, 2009

  • Citation on stercoraceous.

    January 3, 2009

  • ...with one nostril he unthinkingly snuffed the sugary musk from the Bashee isles...

    - Melville, Moby-Dick, ch. 111

    July 31, 2008