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.
Entries linking to schnapps
1520s, of animals, "make a quick bite" (intransitive), from or cognate with Dutch or Low German snappen "to snap," which could be related to Middle Low German or Middle Dutch snavel "bill, beak," which Watkins traces to a hypothetical Germanic root *snu- forming words having to do with the nose, imitative of a sudden drawing of breath (see snout). Ultimately imitative. Compare earlier gnappen "snap with the teeth" (c. 1300).
The intransitive meaning "break suddenly or sharply" is from c. 1600. The transitive sense of "take or catch unexpectedly with a bite" is from 1560s; that of "shut with a sharp sound" is from 1570s.
The meaning "come or move into place with a snap" is attested from 1793. In a broader sense of "do (something) hastily or eagerly" it is attested by 1798. The meaning "take an instant photograph" is from 1890. The U.S. football sense is by 1887 (see the noun).
To snap at "speak sharply or harshly to" is from 1570s. To snap in the mental sense of "suddenly lose control, composure, or sanity" is from 1970s. Related: Snapped; snapping.
In reference to the noise made with the fingers and palm, from 1670s (snap with one's fingers). The phrase snap out of it "change one's behavior suddenly" is recorded by 1907. The snapping turtle, large, ferocious freshwater turtle of the U.S., is so called by 1784, for its powerful bite. Snap-brim (adj.) in reference to a type of hat is from 1928.
consonant cluster that can represent five distinct sounds in English; it first was used by Middle English writers to render Old English sc-, a sound now generally pronounced (and spelled) "-sh-." Sometimes it was miswritten for ch. It also was taken in from German (schnapps) and Yiddish (schlemiel). In words derived from classical languages (school (n.1)), it represents Latin sch-, Greek skh-, but in some of these words the spelling is a restoration and the pronunciation does not follow it (as in schism; Middle English sisme, cisme).
The Yiddish words with it, often derisive or dismissive, tended to come into 20c. American English. In addition to those with entries here, Saul Bellow used schmegeggy, "Portnoy's Complaint" has schmatte "a ragged garment;" schmeck "a sniff" figures in heroin jargon, and schmutz "dirt, filth" has been used. Directly to English from German also are some specialized words: Schmelz "enamel," schmerz "grief, pain, sorrow,"
updated on January 31, 2022