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Sneaked vs. Snuck: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 26, 2023
"Sneaked" and "snuck" are both past tense forms of "sneak"; "sneaked" is traditionally correct, while "snuck" is a more informal, colloquial variant.

Key Differences

The English language often presents variations in verb forms, and "sneaked" and "snuck" exemplify this phenomenon. Both are past tense forms of the verb "sneak," which means to move quietly or secretly. Traditionally, "sneaked" is the standard past tense and past participle form.
"Snuck," while considered nonstandard in earlier years, has gained significant traction in American English. It's a more informal variant that has found its way into everyday speech and even many written contexts. However, purists and some style guides might still prefer "sneaked" over "snuck."
Usage varies based on region and context. In the U.S., "snuck" is widely accepted and frequently used, even in some formal writing. Meanwhile, "sneaked" tends to be more common in British English. Both forms communicate the same action but cater to different audiences and contexts.
Despite the debates over which form is "correct," it's essential to recognize that language evolves. "Snuck" is a testament to this evolution, showcasing how colloquial forms can become integrated into standard usage. Whether one chooses "sneaked" or "snuck" depends on the desired tone, audience, and personal or organizational style preferences.
While "sneaked" might appear in more formal or traditional contexts, "snuck" embodies the dynamic nature of language, demonstrating that even long-established norms can shift over time.

Comparison Chart


Past tense form of "sneak"
Informal past tense variant of "sneak"


Traditional form
American English variant

Usage Context

More formal or traditional
Informal, colloquial

Preference in Regions

More common in British English
More accepted in American English

Historical Acceptance

Historically considered the "correct" form
Historically seen as nonstandard, but now widely accepted

Sneaked and Snuck Definitions


Introduced or inserted stealthily.
He sneaked a note into her pocket.


Introduced or brought quietly.
He snuck a toy into school.


Moved quietly or secretively.
He sneaked into the room unnoticed.


Took or obtained surreptitiously.
She snuck some cookies from the jar.


Acted or proceeded in a cautious or surreptitious manner.
They sneaked around the corner to avoid being seen.


Infiltrated or slipped in unnoticed.
The thoughts snuck into his mind uninvited.


Crept or went stealthily.
She sneaked a peek at her birthday presents.


Acted in a secretive or sneaky manner.
They snuck up behind us and surprised us.


Infiltrated or entered without notice.
The cat sneaked in through the open window.


Moved stealthily or secretly.
He snuck out of the house late at night.


To go or move in a quiet, stealthy way.


A past tense and a past participle of sneak. See Usage Note at sneak.


Simple past tense and past participle of sneak
I snuck into the theater because the movie had already started.


Can I use "snuck" in an academic paper?

Check your style guide, but many now accept "snuck" given its widespread use.

Are both "sneaked" and "snuck" correct?

Yes, both are used as past tense forms of "sneak," though their acceptance varies by context.

Is "snuck" accepted in formal writing?

While it's become more accepted, especially in American English, some style guides might prefer "sneaked."

Which is more common in the UK?

"Sneaked" is typically more common in British English.

How did "snuck" originate?

"Snuck" evolved in American English as an irregular past tense form, similar to "stuck" from "stick."

If I'm unsure, which should I use?

"Sneaked" is traditionally safer, but consider your audience and context.

Can I switch between the two in writing?

For consistency, it's better to stick to one form in a single piece of writing.

Does every English-speaking region use "snuck"?

While it's common in American English, its use varies in other regions.

How do I decide which to use?

Consider the tone, audience, and regional preferences.

Which is older, "sneaked" or "snuck"?

"Sneaked" is the traditional form, while "snuck" is a newer, colloquial variant.

Are there other verbs like "sneak" with two past tense forms?

Yes, "dive" has "dived" and "dove," and "hang" has "hanged" and "hung," depending on context.

Have classic authors used "snuck"?

"Snuck" rose in the 20th century, so it's less common in older literature.

Is one more correct than the other?

Both are correct, but "sneaked" is the traditional form.

Does the meaning change with the form used?

No, both convey the same action of moving secretly or stealthily.

Is "snuck" informal?

Originally, it was more informal, but its acceptance has broadened over time.

Is "snuck" slang?

It started as a colloquial variant, but its widespread use has made it mainstream in many contexts.

Do dictionaries include "snuck"?

Yes, modern dictionaries list both "sneaked" and "snuck" as past tense forms.

Which sounds more formal?

"Sneaked" often sounds more formal than "snuck."

Is "snuck" here to stay?

Given its widespread use and acceptance, it appears to be a lasting part of the language.

Why has "snuck" become popular?

Its rise might be attributed to its phonetic similarity to other verbs and its ease of use.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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