Off topic: Does "snide" mean something different in the US vs the UK?
Thread poster: Hugh Jarce

Hugh Jarce
United Kingdom
Jul 8

To me as a Brit, the word "snide" (as in "a snide comment") conveys an idea of nastiness and maliciousness, as well as an idea of slyness and underhandedness.

Does it convey those same ideas in US English? I'm asking because I've come across US speakers using the word snide a couple of times now in a way that doesn't seem to fit the context to me as a native speaker of British English.

Or is "snide" just one of those words that people use incorrectly sometimes like "iro
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To me as a Brit, the word "snide" (as in "a snide comment") conveys an idea of nastiness and maliciousness, as well as an idea of slyness and underhandedness.

Does it convey those same ideas in US English? I'm asking because I've come across US speakers using the word snide a couple of times now in a way that doesn't seem to fit the context to me as a native speaker of British English.

Or is "snide" just one of those words that people use incorrectly sometimes like "ironically" or "literally"?

[Edited at 2019-07-08 14:54 GMT]
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Emma Page
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:49
Member (2017)
French to English
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No difference that I'm aware of Jul 9

Hugh Jarce wrote:

To me as a Brit, the word "snide" (as in "a snide comment") conveys an idea of nastiness and maliciousness, as well as an idea of slyness and underhandedness.

[Edited at 2019-07-08 14:54 GMT]


Do you have an example of the US usage which is throwing you off? As a US native, I would say your definition matches my understanding of the word. I would add that there is a sense of wit about it, a snide comment might be an insult thinly disguised as a joke, and implies a certain superiority of the person making it.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
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English to Afrikaans
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Google says... Jul 9

Hugh Jarce wrote:
To me as a Brit, the word "snide" (as in "a snide comment") conveys an idea of nastiness and maliciousness, as well as an idea of slyness and underhandedness. Does it convey those same ideas in US English?


Collins says:

1. (especially of remarks) containing unpleasant criticism that is not clearly stated

Oxford says:

1. Derogatory or mocking in an indirect way.
2. North American: (of a person) devious and underhand.
3. British informal: counterfeit; inferior.

Webster (an American dictionary) says:

1a: false, counterfeit
1b: practicing deception
2: unworthy of esteem
3: slyly disparaging


[Edited at 2019-07-09 15:22 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:49
Member (2007)
English
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Maybe that's the difference Jul 9

Emma Page wrote:
As a US native, I would say your definition matches my understanding of the word. I would add that there is a sense of wit about it, a snide comment might be an insult thinly disguised as a joke, and implies a certain superiority of the person making it.

I'm not aware of any connection with wit when used by Brits. It's just plain nastiness.


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Hugh Jarce
United Kingdom
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your replies Jul 10

Sheila Wilson: "I'm not aware of any connection with wit when used by Brits. It's just plain nastiness."
Yes I agree with that.

Samuel Murray: The trouble with dictionary definitions is that if snide is a word that some people use incorrectly and there isn't a usage note to explain that, then I'm none the wiser, hence the last part of my query. The usage note in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Fifth Edition) for the word literally says: For more than
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Sheila Wilson: "I'm not aware of any connection with wit when used by Brits. It's just plain nastiness."
Yes I agree with that.

Samuel Murray: The trouble with dictionary definitions is that if snide is a word that some people use incorrectly and there isn't a usage note to explain that, then I'm none the wiser, hence the last part of my query. The usage note in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Fifth Edition) for the word literally says: For more than a hundred years, critics have remarked on the incoherence of using literally in a way that suggests the exact opposite of its primary sense of "in a manner that accords with the literal sense of the words." In 1926, for example, H.W. Fowler deplored the example "The 300,000 Unionists ... will be literally thrown to the wolves." [...]
Such usage notes are very useful.

Emma Page: "Do you have an example of the US usage which is throwing you off?"
The first time this happened was a couple of years ago. I can't remember the context I'm afraid, but I do remember thinking that snide was an odd word to use in the context. More recently I was watching a YouTube video and two Brits made a video "explaining" how Independence Day came about. It was like an April Fool's joke because their "explanation" was in parts nonsensical and in parts they dumbed down the topic to the point of absurdity (e.g. saying that the Americans were sick of their overbearing parents and wanted to be free to live how they wanted). I found it pretty funny, as did another commenter, but he/she also referred to the video as snide (which seemed to be meant as a compliment), which totally threw me because to me there was nothing snide about the video at all. They were just messing about. So it got me thinking that either he/she doesn't know what snide means or that snide means something different in the US (or in parts of the US).
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Hugh Jarce
United Kingdom
TOPIC STARTER
My reply doesn't need a title Jul 11

Emma Page:
Here's the link to the YouTube video I mentioned: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTXNkLRn1qE&t=4s
Is there anything about this video that seems snide to you?


 


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