Dr. Goodword’s Language Blog

Getting off the Snide

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.

3 Responses to “Getting off the Snide”

  1. Helmet Speakers Says:

    I hear the expression, “he’s really gotten off the snide” (particularly in the sports world) Anyboby got a clue about this origin and meaning?? Thanks Guy

    We’ve had a recent discussion of this which you can find by typing “schneid” in the Search box. “Off the snide” is a variant of schneid, and schneider, both terms from gin rummy (and later, other card games) where one side has failed to score for an extended period. Stakes at gin rummy escalate if you schneider your opponent, that is, reach a winning score to their
    Helmet Speakers

  2. Stephen Waldman Says:

    Years ago, when ‘Mad’ magazine was more verbal (and also had really great art), they sometimes used the expression “It’s crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide.” Cockney, I guess, meaning it’s crazy to pay off a cop with counterfeit money.

  3. Liz Davenport Says:

    i came across a similar sentence in P. G. Wodehouse’s The Small Bachelor, “…the male bird would prove to be Willie the Dude, wanted in Syracuse for slipping the snide.” This was a supposition by a policeman eying a group of prisoners he’d captured near the end of the book. (The male bird wasn’t Willie the Dude, nor was counterfeiting part of the plot, but it’s an interesting interpretation of slipping the snide.)

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