"Snips and Snails and Puppy dogs tails"

I've found several possible definitions for a "snip" such as:

  • An insignificant person
  • Something easily obtained, i.e. a bargain
  • A piece of something that has been cut off

Which definition is the one meant in this delightful nursery rhyme? If the definition is more arcane than one of these, I suppose the etymology is fascinating.

1 Answer 1


This page: http://www.word-detective.com/2008/03/snip/ goes into the likely etymology in some detail and concludes that your third option "A piece of something that has been cut off" is the most likely.

To quote directly:

The sense of “snip” in “snips and snails,” etc., is probably “small pieces of things,” perhaps odds and ends of the sort collected by small boys.

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