1. (US Und.) a railroad switchman.
|Wash. Post 10 Dec. 4/5: ‘Snakes’ are switchmen.|
|in Ozark Folksongs and Folklore (1992) I 254: A snake run out to throw the switch, / The train ran over the son-of-a-bitch.|
|(con. 1920s) Legs 21: And before you ask me what a snake is, it’s a switchman.|
2. (Aus.) a non-commissioned officer.
|(con. 1941) Twenty Thousand Thieves 176: Baxter reckons the officers and snakes are pinching our beer.|
3. (US) a police officer.
|AS XVI:3 Oct. 188: Tin badge, Flatty, Snake, Black and Blue, My Hero, Fagin. A policeman, used disparagingly.‘Peanuts! The Pickle Dealers’ in|
4. a non union employment agency.
|On High Steel 199: I got a friend runs a little snake outfit; we’ll give him a call when the job’s done.|