Old English snægl, from Proto-Germanic *snagila (source also of Old Saxon snegil, Old Norse snigill, Danish snegl, Swedish snigel, Middle High German snegel, dialectal German Schnegel, Old High German snecko, German Schnecke "snail"), from *snog-, variant of PIE root *sneg- "to crawl, creep; creeping thing" (see snake (n.)). The word essentially is a diminutive form of Old English snaca "snake," which literally means "creeping thing." Also formerly used of slugs. Symbolic of slowness at least since c. 1000; snail's pace is attested from c. 1400.
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