Snuck or Sneaked?

The English language is always changing. Usages that once were considered wrong gradually become accepted.

English teachers may not be happy about it. You may not be happy about it! But there are always changes right around the corner.

That means there’s always a transitional period when a word or usage is moving from the wrong column to the right column. That’s exactly what’s happening right now in the US with the word snuck. (It doesn’t seem to be an issue in other English-speaking countries, which still use the formally correct sneaked.)

Snuck is slang and inappropriate for police reports (unless you’re quoting someone’s exact words – then it’s okay). But snuck is showing up more and more often in professional writing. Soon – I predict – it will be accepted usage.

My advice to officers now is to stick to sneaked. Don’t be the first to adopt a language change! Here’s a story to illustrate my point.

A nine-year-old Minneapolis boy slipped past security, got onto a Delta flight, and flew to Las Vegas. Several hours went by before flight attendants realized the boy was a stowaway. Police investigated, and the boy was placed in a foster home.

Two news stories about the stowaway are worth a look. The first is from FOX 9 News in Minneapolis-St. Paul:


The second is from CNN:

sneakedIs “snuck” (which appears in the FOX 9 report) an acceptable substitute for “sneaked”?

The answer is simple: Not yet. Snuck is still nonstandard – similar to ain’t. Most language authorities still reject it.

Stick to sneaked in your police reports, at least for now!


2 thoughts on “Snuck or Sneaked?

    1. Jean Post author

      I absolutely agree! I’m always astonished when I hear professional people use it in formal situations. But it happens!


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