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Emily Brontë in Wuthering Heights writes:

I took a seat at the end of the hearthstone opposite that towards which my landlord advanced, and filled up an interval of silence by attempting to caress the canine mother, who had left her nursery, and was sneaking wolfishly to the back of my legs, her lip curled up, and her white teeth watering for a snatch. My caress provoked a long, guttural gnarl. 'You'd better let the dog alone,' growled Mr. Heathcliff in unison, checking fiercer demonstrations with a punch of his foot.

What does watering for a snatch mean in this context? Is it about food or petting?

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  • We usually speak of someone's mouth watering rather than their teeth; it implies that they are hungry (producing saliva). Commented Jun 21 at 10:55
  • watering for = salivating, eagerly anticipating, a snatch = a bite Commented Jun 21 at 17:12
  • OED: snatch n. 3.a. A hasty catch or grasp; a sudden grab or snap at something. Frequently figurative. 1587– Commented Jun 21 at 17:59
  • The part about "her white teeth" is part of the fragment too.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jun 21 at 22:39

1 Answer 1

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It means that the dog (a bitch) is contemplating the opportunity to bite someone; this becomes clear after reading what follows.

“You’d better let the dog alone,” growled Mr. Heathcliff in unison, checking fiercer demonstrations with a punch of his foot. “She’s not accustomed to be spoiled—not kept for a pet.”
[…]
Joseph mumbled indistinctly in the depths of the cellar, but gave no intimation of ascending; so his master dived down to him, leaving me vis-à-vis the ruffianly bitch and a pair of grim shaggy sheep-dogs, who shared with her a jealous guardianship over all my movements. Not anxious to come in contact with their fangs, I sat still;

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  • Yes, salivating to grab a little bite. Commented Jun 21 at 14:25
  • Yes, 'wolfishly' and 'her lip curled' up show she is not amused. Commented Jun 21 at 18:30

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