1889, the game and the word said in an oft-told story to have been invented in India by British officers as a diversion from billiards. The name is perhaps a reference (with regard to the rawness of play by a fellow officer) to British slang snooker "newly joined cadet, first-term student at the R.M. Academy" (1872). Tradition ascribes the coinage to Col. Sir Neville Chamberlain (not the later prime minister of the same name), at the time subaltern in the Devonshire Regiment in Jubbulpore. One of the first descriptions of the game is in A.W. Drayson's "The Art of Practical Billiards for Amateurs" (1889), which states in a footnote "The rules of the game of snooker are the copyright of Messrs. Burroughes & Watts, from whom they may be obtained," they being manufacturers of billiard tables.
"to cheat," early 1900s, from snooker (n.). Related: Snookered; snookering.
One of the great amusements of this game is, by accuracy in strength, to place the white ball so close behind a pool ball that the next player cannot hit a pyramid ball, he being "snookered" from all of them. If he fail to strike a pyramid ball, this failure counts one to the adversary. If, however, in attempting to strike a pyramid ball off a cushion, he strike a pool ball, his adversary is credited with as many points as the pool ball that is struck would count if pocketed by rule. [Maj.-Gen. A.W. Drayson, "The Art of Practical Billiards for Amateurs," 1889]
updated on September 25, 2018