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Wait a Minute -- What Does 'Snaky' Mean, Exactly?

Snaky is a word that can mean "like a snake" or "shady" and is often used to describe deceitful behavior.

Snakes have a negative reputation in various contexts, such as being associated with Original Sin in Christianity and being feared by Indiana Jones. However, not all imagery related to snakes is negative, as seen in Taylor Swift's empowering album "reputation" where she used snakes as her mascot. The influence of snakes can also be seen in the English language, with words like "snaky" emerging.

Although "snaky" is often associated with negative connotations like being shady or deceitful, it actually has a stronger connection to snakes than one might think. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines "snaky" as being "of, formed of, or entwined with snakes." It can also mean "serpentine" or "snakelike," and even "suggestive of a snake." Additionally, it can indicate something that is abundant in snakes.

With these snake-related meanings, "snaky" can be used to describe things that resemble snakes, such as hair or movement. For example, saying "Medusa had snaky hair" implies that Medusa, a character from Greek mythology, had snakes instead of hair. Furthermore, if something coils, it can also be described as snaky. The earliest recorded use of the word "snaky" was in 1567 to describe Medusa's hair.

However, the most common understanding of "snaky" is as a slang term meaning "shady" or "deceitful." confirms this meaning, along with additional interpretations such as "venomous," "treacherous," or "insidious." Collins Dictionary adds that "snaky" can also mean "cunningly treacherous or evil," which likely stems from the biblical story of the serpent in the Garden of Eden. The negative imagery associated with snakes, including cunning, disingenuousness, and insincerity, contributes to the "treacherous" definition.

In popular usage, "snaky" is often employed to describe someone who is untruthful. This usage is exemplified by Kim Kardashian's use of the snake emoji when she attempted to expose Taylor Swift as a liar, only to have it backfire on Kardashian. For instance, if someone claims to be sick and unable to attend your wedding but is later seen at another wedding the day before, you could call them snaky. Similarly, if someone expresses disdain for a mutual frenemy but begins spending a lot of time with that person, they could be considered snaky.

Therefore, while "snaky" is commonly associated with its slang meaning on social media, it has deeper connections to snakes and the negative perceptions we hold about them. It is important to consider the multifaceted nature of words and their origins to fully understand their meanings.

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