As an adjective from 1790. Commonly used to indicate instantaneous action, as in snap judgment (1841). Sense of "quick movement" is first recorded 1630s; that of "something easily done" is 1877. Meaning "brief or sudden spell" of weather (usually cold) is from 1740. Meaning "catch or fastener that closes with a snapping sound" is from 1815. The card game name is attested from 1881, from a call used in the game. Meaning "a snap-shot" is from 1894. U.S. football sense is from 1912, earlier snap-back (1880), which also was a name for the center position. Snap, Crackle and Pop, cartoon characters associated with Kellogg breakfast cereal Rice Krispies, are from 1940.
1818, a kind of Holland gin or a strong, colorless spirit resembling it, from German Schnaps, literally "a mouthful, gulp," from Low German snaps, from snappen "to snap" (see snap (v.)). For sense, compare nip for "alcoholic drink quickly taken." Used in 19c. for "spiritous liquor of any sort;" the flavored varieties are modern.