Snigs and Snegs

The word snig came up in conversation with a friend who came to fix some of my doors last week. They weren’t closing properly and he sawed and planed bits of them. We found that the catch doesn’t work in one of them, but the lock, a small metal slidding one, does. My friend told me that such locks are called snigs, a word I hadn’t heard before and which I can’t find in any of the dictionaries I’ve checked. Maybe it’s a dialect word.

A similar word that is perhaps related is sneg, which is what the window fitters called the metal protrusions that slide out to lock the windows in place.

Have any of you heard of either of these words?

Do you have other words for these kinds of locks?

This entry was posted in English, Language, Words and phrases.

10 Responses to Snigs and Snegs

  1. Alan says:

    Are you sure it was snig? I thought the word was snib.

  2. Yenlit says:

    ‘Snig’ is in the dictionary with a variety of meanings including the sense of a protrusion. Although I couldn’t find ‘sneg’ in the dictionary there was a ‘snib’:
    Scot. (noun) the bolt or fastening of a door, window, etc. (verb) snibs, snibbing, snibbed – to bolt or fasten a door.
    The dictionary goes on to say that it is of uncertain origin; perhaps from Low German ‘snibbe’ beak.
    Maybe it’s a regional dialect variation of ‘sneg’?

  3. Yenlit says:

    Forgot to mention that in Manx there’s:
    snig – tap, click of the fingers.
    sneg – catch, latch.
    sneggal – latch.
    And in Norwegian and Swedish dialect there’s the verb ‘snikka’ – to cut, notch; do joiner’s work.

  4. Yenlit says:

    In the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable:
    Sneck posset. To give one a sneck posset is to give one a cold reception, to slam the door in one’s face. In Cumberland and Westmorland (modern day county of Cumbria, NW England) the ‘sneck’ is the latch of the door and to sneck the door in one’s face is to shut a person out.
    I’ve never heard or used any of these dialect examples nor can I think of anything but a ‘latch’ or ‘door/window latch’ that we call it in the English dialect area I’m familiar with?

  5. If you remember, there was a completely different dialect word “snig” discussed on Language Log some time back:

  6. Andrew says:

    Careful you don’t confuse that [sneg] with “smeg”, the second one is a British slang term.

  7. Petréa Mitchell says:


    “Smeg” was invented by the writers of Red Dwarf— have you heard it in another context?

  8. Petréa Mitchell says:

    Snikka for “cut” suggests a possible connection to “snickersnee” (for which the only cite I can give you off the top of my head is that it’s used in The Mikado to refer to a big sword or axe).

  9. Yenlit says:

    As a fairly uncommon mild term of abusive and vulgar schoolboy language ‘smeg’ predates Red Dwarf which definitely bolstered and popularized its usage. I remember it being used in The Young Ones and always believed it to be a shortening of the word smegma.

  10. Yenlit says:

    The latter element of snicker-‘snee’ is the operative ‘cut’ word apparently from the Dutch snijden (to cut)?

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