SNUCK

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Dr. Goodword
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SNUCK

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Dec 01, 2005 12:01 am

• snuck •

Pronunciation: snêk • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, past tense & past participle?
Meaning: Moved in a stealthy, quiet manner so as not to attract attention, slinked (slunk?).

Notes: One of the standard assumptions of linguistics is that irregular forms tend to become regular. So, what once was dive : dove is becoming dive : dived, hang : hung is becoming hang : hanged, while help : holp has long since changed to help : helped. (For more on language change, read Dr. Goodword's latest article on the Reference Shelf.)

In Play: Contrary to this assumption, however, new irregular forms appear and occasionally stick in the language. Irregular past tenses like kilt (kill), thunk (think), brang (bring) are treated as jokes. Yet the past participle in "I am broke" cannot be replaced by broken nor the one in "I am beat (tired)", by beaten. The same is not quite true of snuck: sneaked is still available. But according to the American Heritage Dictionary, "Snuck was almost 20 percent more common in newspaper articles published in 1995 than it was in 1985." So, the use of snuck has grown tremendously since its introduction in the 19th century and now most US dictionaries accept it as a legitimate option.

Word History: Today's (more or less) Good Word reflects a usage limited to the US, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The basic form, sneak, seems to be an English original that descended from Old English snícan, possibly borrowed from Old Norse sníkja, which is snike in Modern Norwegian. The root is clearly related to snake and, probably, to snail. Beyond this, little is known about its history.
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Andrew Dalby
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Postby Andrew Dalby » Thu Dec 01, 2005 9:52 am

I think the OED is right. In Britain we never snuck, we always sneaked.

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Drugged?

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Dec 01, 2005 11:58 pm

Maybe you never snuck but you did drug. Drug was at one time an intensive variant of drag, "to drag with great difficulty". It was itself a regular verb: drug, drugged, drugged. However, it may have very well influenced the rise of drug as a pseudopast tense of drag: drag drug drug, in a class with snuck.
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Andrew Dalby
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Postby Andrew Dalby » Fri Dec 02, 2005 9:18 am

Thank you, good Doctor, I never knew till now that I drug. But at least I never dove: I always dived.

Andrew

KatyBr
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Postby KatyBr » Fri Dec 02, 2005 11:55 am

Andrew Dalby wrote:I think the OED is right. In Britain we never snuck, we always sneaked.
sneaked is of course correct but since the rules came after the usage......apparently I've been wrong in my sneakery all along,

Kt
sneaking in my sneakers

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Re: Drugged?

Postby M. Henri Day » Sun Dec 04, 2005 12:03 pm

Dr. Goodword wrote:Maybe you never snuck but you did drug. ...


What, Brits drug (reflexively or otherwise) ?!! By gar, think what I've missed on my visits to swingin' London !...

Henri
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?


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