I lighted upon a sentence in the New York Times:

Actually almost any tidbit — notably pigs in blankets — that the bar sends my way will satisfy.

This usage of satisfy strikes me as uncommon, if not jarring, as the verb satisfy almost always occurs as a transitive verb. I have just checked all the major online dictionaries. The Oxford Dictionaries Online explicitly says it should be used "with object", while some others have "intransitive verb" listed but no example sentences. I can't seem to find one instance in contemporary texts that uses satisfy intransitively.

So is this usage archaic? Or has it never been a common/widely accepted usage? What is the currency of this usage?

  • 2
    I feel like I hear it in advertisements all the time.
    – Mitch
    Apr 25, 2018 at 1:35
  • @Mitch Then does it mean it is a new usage and hasn't entered every dictionary? Some examples would be helpful.
    – Eddie Kal
    Apr 25, 2018 at 1:39
  • 3
    @L.Moneta The OED has a passage from 1600 using it intransitively. Added to Zebrafish's answer.
    – Mitch
    Apr 25, 2018 at 2:51
  • Use of a verb that is normally transitive without an object is often fine, but may confuse [a person].
    – Cuagau
    Apr 25, 2018 at 7:24
  • Completely unrelated to advertising, this is totally and completely normal in English, @L.Moneta. It is not archaic, it is not unusual, it is completely normal and current.
    – Fattie
    Apr 25, 2018 at 7:55

2 Answers 2


Popularly, this use of "satisfy" is seen in the Snickers slogan: Packed with peanuts, Snickers really satisfies
At least since 1986.

I always heard the advertising slogan simply as "Snickers really satisfies."

10. to give satisfaction
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary

1. To be sufficient or adequate.
2. To give satisfaction.
American Heritage Dictionary

verb (used without object), satisfied, satisfying.
to give satisfaction

intransitive verb : to be adequate : suffice; also : please
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

And lastly from the OED with quotes starting 1600. My thanks to Mitch for adding these to my answer:

5.absol. and intr.
To cause or give satisfaction or contentment.

1600 Chester Pl. Proëm 44
If the same be likeinge to the comons all, then our desier is to satisfie—for that is all our game.

1649 J. Winthrop Hist. New Eng. (1825) (modernized text) I. 210
This would not satisfy, but they called him to answer publickly.

1831 Westm. Rev. Jan. 243
What would have satisfied from the Duke will not satisfy from Lord Grey.

1836 R. W. Emerson Nature iii, in Wks. (1906) II. 145
But in other hours, Nature satisfies by its loveliness, and without any mixture of corporeal benefit.

1903 Heart of Heretic vi. 33
The first and last need of an aspect of religious truth is that it shall satisfy.

  • 1
    Zebrafish, I added the OED. Please re-edit as you see fit.
    – Mitch
    Apr 25, 2018 at 2:51
  • @Mitch That's very kind, thank you. How did you find these? The only way I tried was by searching for "satisfy." or "satisfies.", specifically for end of sentence positions, but Google search kept returning results ignoring the full stop.
    – Zebrafish
    Apr 25, 2018 at 3:10

American Heritage has two meanings listed for the intransitive form:

  1. To be sufficient or adequate.

  2. To give satisfaction.

The first is similar to suffice and the second is a little bit like suit.


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