Ask Difference

Sneaked vs. Snuck — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on October 30, 2023
"Sneaked" and "snuck" are both past tense forms of "sneak," with "sneaked" being traditionally correct but "snuck" widely accepted in informal use.
Sneaked vs. Snuck — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Sneaked and Snuck


Key Differences

"Sneaked" is the traditional past tense and past participle form of "sneak." It's widely accepted in formal writing and speech. Conversely, "snuck" emerged in the 19th century as a colloquial, informal alternative. Both words imply moving quietly or stealthily, but "sneaked" carries a more formal tone.
In literature and academic writing, "sneaked" is often preferred to maintain formality. "Snuck," while commonly used in everyday speech and informal writing, might be considered too casual for some formal contexts. Each word, though similar in meaning, aligns with different language registers.
Linguistically, "sneaked" follows the regular pattern of forming the past tense by adding -ed to the base verb. "Snuck," however, is an irregular formation, deviating from this pattern. Despite its irregularity, "snuck" has gained popularity and acceptance, especially in American English.
Usage varies by region and preference. Some English speakers exclusively use "sneaked," while others prefer "snuck." It's important to note that neither form is incorrect, but awareness of the audience and context can guide the choice between "sneaked" and "snuck."
In conclusion, "sneaked" and "snuck" both indicate moving in a stealthy manner but differ in formality and linguistic regularity. While "sneaked" aligns with traditional, formal English, "snuck" is more colloquial and widely accepted in informal contexts.

Comparison Chart


Regular past tense
Irregular past tense


More formal and traditional
More informal and colloquial

Linguistic Pattern

Follows standard -ed ending
Deviates from standard pattern

Usage Context

Preferred in formal writing
Common in everyday speech


Historically older form
Emerged in the 19th century

Compare with Definitions


Did something surreptitiously.
She sneaked a cookie from the jar.


Secretly obtained or done.
She snuck a peek at the surprise gift.


Moved stealthily.
She sneaked out of the house at midnight.


Did something surreptitiously.
He snuck a note into her locker.


Crept quietly.
The cat sneaked up on the unsuspecting bird.


Entered or left furtively.
They snuck into the concert backstage.


Secretly obtained or done.
He sneaked a glance at the confidential documents.


Moved stealthily.
He snuck out to meet his friends.


Entered or left furtively.
They sneaked into the movie theater without paying.


Crept quietly.
The thief snuck through the dark alley.


To go or move in a quiet, stealthy way.


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


To behave in a cowardly or servile manner.


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


To move, give, take, or put in a quiet, stealthy manner
Sneak candy into one's mouth.
Sneaked a look at the grade sheet.


A person regarded as stealthy, cowardly, or underhanded.


An instance of sneaking; a quiet, stealthy movement.


(Informal) A sneaker.


Carried out in a clandestine manner
Sneak preparations for war.


Perpetrated without warning
A sneak attack.


Simple past tense and past participle of sneak

Common Curiosities

Can "snuck" be used in formal writing?

It's generally less preferred in formal writing.

Is "snuck" a recent addition to the language?

It emerged in the 19th century.

Is "sneaked" the only correct past tense of "sneak"?

No, both "sneaked" and "snuck" are acceptable.

Do "sneaked" and "snuck" have the same meaning?

Yes, they both mean to move stealthily.

Is "snuck" accepted by all dictionaries?

Most modern dictionaries accept "snuck" as an alternative.

Do "sneaked" and "snuck" follow the same grammatical rules?

They differ, as "sneaked" follows regular tense formation, while "snuck" does not.

Are there any synonyms for "sneaked" and "snuck"?

Yes, words like "slipped," "crept," or "tiptoed."

Can "sneaked" and "snuck" be used in past participle form?

Yes, both can be used as past participles.

Can "sneaked" be used in informal contexts?

Yes, it can be used in both formal and informal contexts.

Is "snuck" more common in American or British English?

"Snuck" is more common in American English.

Are there regions where "snuck" is still considered incorrect?

Some traditionalists or formal contexts may prefer "sneaked."

Did "sneaked" always exist as the past tense of "sneak"?

Yes, it's the original past tense form.

Has "snuck" increased in popularity?

Yes, especially in spoken and informal English.

Is "snuck" considered colloquial or slang?

It's colloquial but not slang; it's widely accepted in informal use.

Can "sneaked" and "snuck" be used interchangeably?

In most cases, yes, depending on formality.

Share Your Discovery

Share via Social Media
Embed This Content
Embed Code
Share Directly via Messenger
Previous Comparison
Blackcurrant vs. Cassis

Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

Popular Comparisons

Trending Comparisons

New Comparisons

Trending Terms