Etymology
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sneak (v.)

1550s (implied in sneakish), perhaps from some dialectal survival of Middle English sniken "to creep, crawl" (c. 1200), related to Old English snican "to sneak along, creep, crawl," from Proto-Germanic *sneikanan, which is related to the root of snake (n.). Of feelings, suspicions, etc., from 1748. Transitive sense, "to partake of surreptitiously" is from 1883. Related: Sneaking. Sneak-thief is recorded by 1859; sneak-preview is from 1938.

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sneak (n.)
"a sneaking person; mean, contemptible fellow," 1640s, from sneak (v.).
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sneaky (adj.)
1833, from sneak (v.) + -y (2). Related: Sneakily; sneakiness. Sneaky Pete "cheap liquor" is from 1949.
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sniggler (n.)
1840, in reference to fishing (especially for eels), agent noun from sniggle (v.), which is attested in a sense related to this from 1670s. It is the verbal suffix -le + snig "an eel" (late 15c.), a word of obscure origin but perhaps related to snake (n.) and sneak (v.).
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sneaker (n.)

1590s, "one who sneaks," agent noun from sneak (v.). Meaning "rubber-soled shoe" is attested from 1895, American English; earlier sneak (1862), so called because the shoe was noiseless. See also plimsoll; another early name for them was tackies (1902), from tacky (adj.1).

The night-officer is generally accustomed to wear a species of India-rubber shoes or goloshes on her feet. These are termed 'sneaks' by the women [of Brixton Prison]. ["Female Life in Prison," 1862]

Related: Sneakers.

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snoop (v.)
1832, "to go around in a prying manner," American English, probably from Dutch snoepen "to pry," also "eat in secret, eat sweets, sneak," probably related to snappen "to bite, snatch" (see snap (v.)). Specific meaning "to pry into other people's business" is attested from 1921. Related: Snooped; snooping.
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lurk (v.)
c. 1300, lurken "to hide, lie hidden," probably from Scandinavian (compare dialectal Norwegian lurka "to sneak away," dialectal Swedish lurka "to be slow in one's work"), perhaps ultimately related to Middle English luren "to frown, lurk" (see lower (v.2)). From late 14c. as "move about secretly;" also "escape observation." Related: Lurked; lurking.
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smuggler (n.)
1660s, from Low German smuggeln or Dutch smokkelen "to transport (goods) illegally," apparently a frequentative formation of a word meaning "to sneak" (from Proto-Germanic *smuganan; source also of Dutch smuigen "to eat secretly;" Swedish smyg "a lurking-hole," Danish smughandel "contraband trade," Norwegian smjuga, Old English smeogan "to creep"), perhaps literally "to slip (contraband through)," from Proto-Germanic *(s)muk- (see smock).
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slick (v.)
Old English -slician (in nigslicod "newly made sleek"), from Proto-Germanic *slikojan, from base *slikaz (source also of Old Norse slikr "smooth," Old High German slihhan "to glide," German schleichen "to creep, crawl, sneak," Dutch slijk "mud, mire"), from PIE *sleig- "to smooth, glide, be muddy," from root *(s)lei- "slimy" (see slime (n.)). Related: Slicked; slicking.
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jerry-built (adj.)
"built hastily of shoddy materials," 1856, in a Liverpool context, from jerry "bad, defective," probably a pejorative use of the male nickname Jerry (a popular form of Jeremy; compare Jerry-sneak "sneaking fellow, a hen-pecked husband" [OED], name of a character in Foote's "The Mayor of Garret," 1764). Or from or influenced by nautical slang jury (adj.) "temporary," which came to be used of all sorts of makeshift and inferior objects.
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