c. 1300, snak, "to bite or snap" (of a dog), perhaps from a Northern variant of snatch (v.) influenced by Scandinavian words (such as Old Norse snakka); or perhaps also from or influenced by continental Germanic words such as Middle Dutch snakken, Flemish snacken "to snatch, snap; chatter," which Watkins traces to a hypothetical Germanic imitative root forming words having to do with the nose (see snout).
The meaning "have a mere bite or morsel, eat a light meal" is attested by 1807, from the sense development in the noun. Related: Snacked; snacking.
c. 1400, snak, "a snatch or snap" (especially that of a dog), from snack (v.). Later "a snappish remark" (1550s); "a share, portion, part" (1680s; hence old expressions such as go snacks "share, divide; have a share in").
The meaning "a bite or morsel to eat hastily" is attested from 1757. Snack bar "counter from which snacks are served" is attested from 1923. The unetymological commercial plural snax is attested from 1942 in the vending machine trade.
updated on February 14, 2023