Word of the Day: Snippy

So what does the word “snippy” mean? It’s an adjective, we know that. It is related to any of the following words: assuming, assumptive, audacious, bold, boldfaced, brash, brazen, cheeky, contumelious, familiar, forward, impertinent, impudent, insolent, malapert, nervy, overconfident, pert, presuming, presumptuous, pushy, sassy, saucy, smart. Informal: brassy, flip, fresh, smart-alecky, snippety, uppish, uppity.

It’s that last word, though, that seems to stand out most of all. Uppity. Snippy is a word that is bestowed by us on to other people – we rarely, if ever, call ourselves snippy. The Snippie, we may assume, is the one who has deemed that the Snipper is, indeed, snippy. The famous line regarding snippy is “don’t get snippy with me,” which also denotes a relationship between the Snippie and the Snipper that is not exactly equal – in fact Snippies, that is those who call others snippy (the Snippers), appear to take on a rather superior stance. “Don’t get snippy with me,” sounds like another form of “How dare you!”

And when is someone actually snippy? We are snippy when we dare to take on authority, to call the question, to in fact, question authority. But questioning authority is cool, in some circles (in the old days, liberals questioned authority, but that ended in 1992), and so to say “how dare you question my authority” or “how dare you question her authority” does not seem very, well, progressive. So let’s haul out the word “snippy.” But who actually uses that word?

Who are the Snippies?

A Snippie must be able to define what is snippy (that is stepping out of the box) and then call someone else – who is uppity – snippy. We get the feeling that Snippers (that is, the one called snippy) may be regarded as inferior, even if the Snippie doesn’t realize it – and so the word “snippy” is hauled out and thrown out to the alleged socially, theologically, or intellectually inferior, as in says that BabyBlue these past few days has been snippy at best.”

So if one questions the theology and strategic wisdom of someone oh, let’s just say The Presiding Bishop, and one is a mere layperson – and a girl at that – well, wouldn’t that seem rather uppity? And so whatever critical view this person might have for an alleged social and intellectual superior would indeed be called being “snippy.” At best.

Ah, but we are being snippy, aren’t we?