Pat Williams Jeffery, Bucknell ’72, just dropped me this note today:
“Listening to a sportscast the other day, I heard the announcer talk about someone getting ‘off the snide’. I thought that might be a good word for the day as it has more than one meaning—a snide remark, for example. I am really curious as to the origin of the ‘off the snide’ phrase and thought other readers might like to know, too.”
“Off the snide” is a nonce expression which may have been created by whomever you heard use it. I’m not familiar with it but there are hundreds of such creative configurations floating around out there like the names of such pseudo-diseases, as the hungries, the greasies, the gigglies, the twitchies, and others like do the dirty. Rarely do any stick but some do: on the ball, off the sauce, off his game. This one doesn’t have as much going for it as does, say, off his rocker or off her game, so I don’t give it much chance of survival.
Snide would be a good Good Word but both my two central sources say “Origin unknown” so we won’t find any history of it. It started out as thieves argot in Jolly Old, which pretty much assures that its history is lost forever.