AskDefine | Define snuff

Dictionary Definition

snuff adj : snuff colored; grayish to yellowish brown [syn: snuff-brown, mummy-brown, chukker-brown]


1 the charred portion of a candlewick
2 a pinch of smokeless tobacco inhaled at a single time
3 finely powdered tobacco for sniffing up the nose
4 sensing an odor by inhaling through the nose [syn: sniff]


1 sniff or smell inquiringly [syn: snuffle]
2 inhale audibly through the nose; "snuff coke"

User Contributed Dictionary


Etymology 1


  1. Fine-ground or pulverized tobacco intended for use by being sniffed or snorted into the nose.
  2. Fine-ground or minced tobacco, dry or moistened, intended for use by placing a pinch ('placing a pinch' = dipping) behind the lip or beneath the tongue.
    Dry snuffs are often adulterated with quicklime, and moist snuffs, as rappee, with ammonia, hellebore, pearl-ash, etc. (Quote from Universal Dictionary of the English Language [UDE], 1896.)
  3. A snort or sniff of fine-ground, powdered, or pulverized tobacco. This term is in current use among snuff users.
  4. The act of briskly inhaling by the nose; a sniff, a snort.
  5. Resentment or skepticism expressed by quickly drawing air through the nose; snuffling; sniffling. Cf huff (quickly puffing air from the nose or mouth).
  6. Snot, mucus.
  7. Smell, scent, odour.
fine-ground tobacco


  1. To inhale through the nose

Etymology 2


  1. The burning part of a candle wick, or that which has been charrred by the flame, whether burning or not. (Quote from Universal Dictionary of the English Language [UDE], 1896.) This term is in current use in the candle-making and candle-marketing industry.
  2. Leavings in a glass after drinking; heel-taps. (Quote from UDE)
Derived terms


  1. To extinguish a candle or oil-lamp flame by covering the burning end of the wick until the flame is suffocated.
  2. The killing of a person that is engaged in sexual intercourse; to snuff out.
Derived terms


  1. Relating to death
Derived terms


  • Universal English Dictionary 1896, especially for obsolete and dated senses.

Extensive Definition

Snuff is a type of smokeless Tobacco. There are several types, used in different ways, but traditionally it means Dry/European nasal snuff, which is inhaled or "snuffed" through the nose.



Dry snuff or European snuff is usually (but not always) scented or flavoured and is intended to be sniffed through the nose. Typical flavors are floral, mentholated (also called 'medicated'), fruit, and spice, either pure or in blends. Other common flavours include Modern Flavors
  • Apricot
  • Cola
  • Strawberry
Apart from flavours, dry snuff also comes in a range of texture and moistness, from very fine to coarse, and from toast (very dry) to very moist.Often dryer snuffs are cut finer.

Brands of dry snuff

United Kingdom
South Africa


American snuff, unlike European, is moist. It tends to be applied to the gums, rather than sniffed. Called dipping tobacco, it is similar to Snus, a Swedish tobacco product. American snuff comes in two varieties, 'sweet' and 'salty', but also has flavours include peach, mint, and liquorice. Dipping tobacco is not the same as chewing tobacco.
In India, Creamy snuff is a paste consisting of tobacco, clove oil, glycerin, spearmint, menthol, and camphor sold in a toothpaste tube. It is marketed mainly to women in India and is known by the brand names Ipco (made by Asha Industries), Denobac, Tona, Ganesh.

Snuff accessories

When snuff taking was fashionable, the manufacture of snuff accessories was a lucrative industry in several cultures. In Europe, snuff boxes ranged from those made in very basic materials, such as horn, to highly ornate designs featuring precious materials made using state of the art techniques. Large snuff containers, called mulls, were usually kept on the table. A famous silver communal snuff box at the British House of Commons was destroyed in World War II.
In China, snuff bottles were used, usually available in two forms. Glass bottles are decorated on the inside to protect the design. Another type used layered multi-coloured glass, parts of the layers which were removed to create a picture.


Snufftaking by the Native Americans was first described by a monk named Ramon Pane in 1493, during Columbus' second journey to the Americas.
In 1561 Jean Nicot, the French ambassador in Lisbon, Portugal, sent snuff to Catherine de' Medici to treat her son's persistent migraines, after which she became a fan of snuff.
By the 1600s some started to object to snuff being taken. Pope Urban VIII threatened to excommunicate snufftakers, and in Russia in 1643, Tsar Michael set the punishment of removal of the nose for snuff use. However, there were still some fans; King Louis XIII of France was a devout snufftaker, and by 1638, snuff use had been reported to be spreading in China.
By the 1700s, Snuff had become the tobacco product of choice, with fans including Napoleon, George III's wife, and a new Pope, Benedict XIII. It is also during the 1700s that the first tobacco warnings were published, among these, John Hill, an English doctor warned of the overuse of snuff, causing vulnerability to nasal cancers. Snuff's image as an aristocratic luxury attracted the first U.S. federal tax on tobacco, created in 1794.
In Eighteenth-Century Britain, the Gentlewoman's Magazine advised readers with ailing sight to use the correct type of Portuguese snuff, "whereby many eminent people had cured themselves so that they could read without spectacles after having used them for many years."

Legal issues

Oral snuff, in the form of dipping tobacco and snus is banned from all countries of the European Union, except Sweden and Norway, where the sale of snuff is legal. .
In spite of legal issues, snuff is readily available over the counter in most European tobacco shops. In Britain, snuff is much cheaper than cigarettes and other tobacco products as it is tax exempt, however for duty free reasons snuff still carries the same limitations as tobacco products.

See also

Further reading


snuff in Tosk Albanian: Schnupftabak
snuff in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Табака
snuff in Bavarian: Schmei
snuff in German: Schnupftabak
snuff in Esperanto: Snuftabako
snuff in French: Tabac à priser
snuff in Icelandic: Neftóbak
snuff in Luxembourgish: Schnauftubak
snuff in Dutch: Snuiftabak
snuff in Polish: Tabaka
snuff in Portuguese: Rapé
snuff in Russian: Снафф
snuff in Simple English: Snuff
snuff in Thai: ยานัตถุ์

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Aqua-Lung, artificial respiration, aspirate, aspiration, assibilate, assibilation, asthmatic wheeze, blow, blow out, breath, breath of air, breathe, breathe hard, breathe in, breathe out, breathing, broken wind, buzz, choke, cough, damp, douse, draw in, dudgeon, effervesce, effervescence, effervescing, exhalation, exhale, exhaust, expel, expiration, expire, exsufflation, extinguish, fizz, fizzle, fizzling, frication, frictional rustling, gasp, gulp, hack, hiccup, hiss, hissing, huff, hush, hushing, inhalation, inhalator, inhale, inhalement, inspiration, inspire, insufflation, iron lung, lisp, miff, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, nose, out, oxygen mask, oxygen tent, pant, pinch of snuff, pique, puff, put out, quench, rappee, resentment, respiration, respire, rhonchus, scent, scuba, shush, shushing, sibilance, sibilate, sibilation, siffle, sigh, sigmatism, siss, sissing, sizz, sizzle, sizzling, slack, slurp, smell, smell of, smother, sneeze, sneezing, sniff, sniffle, snoose, snore, snoring, snort, snuff bottle, snuff in, snuff mill, snuff out, snuffbox, snuffle, spit, splutter, sputter, squash, squelch, squish, stamp out, sternutation, stertor, stifle, suck, suck in, sucking, suckle, suction, suspiration, swish, umbrage, wheeze, whiff, whish, whistle, whistling, white noise, whiz, whoosh, wind, zip
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