Green’s Dictionary of Slang

snappy adj.

(orig. US)

1. (also snappish) smart, clever, esp. of language.

[UK]T. Carlyle Diamond Necklace 15/2: We have a face ‘with a certain piquancy,’ the liveliest glib-snappish tongue, the liveliest kittenish manner.
[UK]Sheffield Indep. 7 Aug. 5/2: You may ask why I do not write to the editor of the paper [...] but I know [...] he is so crusty and snappish.
[US]‘Mark Twain’ Roughing It 57: They were snappy, able men, these division-agents.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 10 Mar. 3/4: The referee then called upon a bald-headed, snappy man named Storey, and some nice fairy tales he tried to ring in.
[UK] ‘’Arry on Harry’ Punch 24 Aug. 90/3: Not one snappy side-phrase in your sermon, except that old gag ‘tommy rot.’.
[Aus]W.A. Sun. Times (Perth) 25 Aug. 1/1: Square gin is a necessary adjunct to I the working of a local telephone exchange. This explains . the ‘schnappy’ answers so often given to subscribers.
[US]T. Dreiser letter 11 July in Riggio Dreiser-Mencken Letters I (1986) 26: Won’t you come across with something real snappy.
[UK]A. Lunn Harrovians 66: I’ll give you the snappier extracts.
[UK]Wodehouse Psmith Journalist (1993) 207: Billy Windsor’s newspaper friends had turned in some fine, snappy stuff.
[US]N. Putnam West Broadway 56: ‘Oh, clothes!’ says our leading Snappy Ladies' Gowns and Modes [...] ‘get some old khaki thing!’.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 478: It’s just the cutest snappiest line out.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Jim Maitland (1953) 86: You’d better think out a good epitaph [...] Something snappy and original.
[UK]Wodehouse Inimitable Jeeves 115: The audience were in the mood for something a good deal snappier.
[UK]E. Glyn Flirt and Flapper 67: Flapper: Gee! Great-Grandma, you do give things snappy names.
[US]R.E. Howard ‘Night of Battle’ in Fight Stories Mar. [Internet] Snappy kids like you got no business away from home.
[US]Billie Holiday ‘Billie’s Blues’ [lyrics] Some men like me ’cause I’m happy, some ’cause I’m snappy.
[UK]Whizzbang Comics 11: That’s a pretty snappy way of describing that horse.
[US]J. Crumley One to Count Cadence (1987) 171: A gangster was better than a snappy, wheeler-dealer preacher because the gangster was more honest.
[US]L. Rosten Dear ‘Herm’ 17: Can you send us some snappy answers.
[UK]A. Hollinghurst Swimming-Pool Library (1998) 172: What to say, what was the snappy putdown?
[UK]Observer Screen 4 July 6: Snappy concepts are easy to devise, but much harder to turn into good movies.
[US](con. 1975–6) E. Little Steel Toes 77: I’m tongue-tied, got no snappy repartee.
[US]J. Stahl Happy Mutant Baby Pills 17: All the snappy patter I’ve cranked out, and you know what made me really feel bad?

2. energetic.

Trib. Bk of Sports (Century) 118: [Lacrosse]... a game well suited to the American taste, being short, snappy and vivacious, from beginning to end.
[US]Richmond Dispatch (VA) 6 Apr. 19/2: Copeland [...] is catcher and plays a fast, snappy game.
H. Green ‘Disillusions of Flossie’ in McClures June n.p.: Both of ’em tipped me! I guess that’s snappy work, Floss.
[UK]‘Sax Rohmer’ Dope 176: ‘If we don’t exist as far as 719 is concerned, sir,’ said Kerry in his most snappy tones, ‘719 means nothing to me!’.
[US]M. Levin Reporter 395: He is snappy, and yet patient with the customers.
[US]D. Lamson We Who Are About to Die 104: Not one of your fat, dumb cops [...] but the modern hard-boiled, snappy sort.
[US](con. 1918) S.J. Simonsen Soldier Bill 124: The British are not so snappy as the Americans when it comes to close order drill and parades.
[US]M. Spillane One Lonely Night 64: I breezed in with a snappy hello.
[US](con. 1916) G. Swarthout Tin Lizzie Troop (1978) 232: He started the Vic and sat there listening to a snappy orchestral rendition of ‘Give a Little Credit to Your Dad’.
[US]D. Woodrell Muscle for the Wing 28: Her butt got pinched more than a baby’s nose and even her snappy slaps back couldn’t stop them.

3. (also snap) neat, elegant.

[UK] ‘’Arry at the Royal Evening Fête’ in Punch 28 July 38/1: Ten bob and snap togs took me in, and I chummed with the very eleet.
[UK]Sporting Times 11 Oct. 3/2: The snappiest of of apple-green-away costumes.
[UK]Daily Tel. 4 July in Ware (1909) 228/1: I must send you a few lines to tell you to take care of yourself, and be a good little boy, and keep out of mischief. I am going to keep the spotted jersey, and it looks quite snappy.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 28 Apr. 12/3: The snappiest wedding for a long time past was that of Miss Queenie Calvert [...] and Mr. Gordon Lyon [...].The presents, counted by hundreds, included hunters [...], a pony, a gun, diamonds, and cheques galore.
[US]M. Glass Potash And Perlmutter 20: That’s snappy stuff [...] I bet yer they sell like hot cakes.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 3 June [synd. col.] He has the appearance of the average vaudeville hoofer — snappy clothes and a brisk manner.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 245: Jim Clayburn’s dude father came along, dressed in snappy grey.
[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 284: She was dressed kind of snappy but looked tired.
[Aus]Army News (Darwin, NT) 29 Aug. 3/1: There was a guy who arrived in New Guinea waring a snappy new garrison hat.
[UK]S. Jackson Indiscreet Guide to Soho 113: Your spiv is always a snappy dresser.
[US]T. Runyon In For Life 192: He [...] was a rather snappy dresser.
[US]M. Rumaker Exit 3 and Other Stories 128: That’s a snappy looking automobile you got there.
[US]J.G. Dunne True Confessions (1979) 12: He was a snappy dresser, the old man, poor as he was.
[UK]‘Derek Raymond’ He Died with His Eyes Open 20: Next evening you see them in the bar of the Princess Caroline wearing second-hand snappy coats.
[UK]Eve. Standard 28 May 52: Their winning combination of vocal talent, good looks, snappy styling and sheer youthful fizz.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Leaving Bondi (2013) [ebook] He was a good style of bloke and a snappy dresser.
[UK]D.S. Mitchell Killer Tune (2008) 16: LT had met a few Latin Americans around town. Sharp, snappy dressers.

4. sharply flavoursome.

[UK]A. Binstead Gal’s Gossip 110: An old man of thirty [...] giving the trained nurse of his choice — Sister Flossie — a snappy little supper in a private room.

5. sexy, titillating.

[UK] ‘’Arry at a Political Pic–Nic’ in Punch 11 Oct. 180/1: I ’ad several turns with a snappy young party with stror coloured ’air.
[UK]Sporting Times 14 Feb. 1/2: ‘Come down to the sands and I’ll show you the very snappiest girl in a bathing costume that you ever — ’.
[US]H. Green Maison De Shine 64: She did not relate snappy scandal of vaudeville dressing-rooms, as had been her custom.
[US]N.Y. Tribune 18 Sept. 6/2: I must have come across with some of the snappiest [jokes] I had in stock and I was watchin’ for the girls to pink up.
[US]Ade ‘The New Fable of the Lonesome Camp’ in Ade’s Fables 257: She was a snappy little Trick.
[US]H.L. Wilson Professor How Could You! 277: The sticks wouldn’t ever stand for sex stuff as raw as that. I suppose there’s a snappy bedroom scene.
[US]D. Runyon ‘The Old Doll’s House’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 68: Stories of one kind and another, some of which he cleans up a little [...] they may be a little too snappy for her.
[Aus]L. Glassop We Were the Rats 200: They tell me there are some pretty snappy lines in low-necked costumes down at the beach.
[US]T. Thursday ‘Dead Men Don’t Move’ in Smashing Detective Stories Jan. [Internet] Nina Shirley was a snappy looking chickadee.

In phrases

look snappy (about) (v.)

to hurry, to ‘look smart’.

[US]‘J. Barbican’ Confessions of a Rum-Runner in Hamilton Men of the Und. 191: I told him to [...] look snappy about it.
[Ire]‘Myles na gCopaleen’ Faustus Kelly in ‘Flann O’Brien’ Stories & Plays (1973) 169: Begob if you’re not coddin’ about going up you’ll have to look snappy. You haven’t much time left.
[US]H. Hunt East of Farewell 136: They’ll want to look snappy today.
make it snappy (v.) (also make it crisp)

to get on with, to hurry up; usu. as imper. make it snappy!

[US]R. Lardner ‘Harmony’ in Coll. Short Stories (1941) 182: You’re in a hurry; so I’ll make it snappy.
[US]T.H. Kelly What Outfit, Buddy? 93: I told him to make it snappy.
[US]W.R. Burnett Little Caesar (1932) 111: ‘OK,’ said Rico, ‘but make it snappy.’.
[UK]G. Greene Gun for Sale (1973) 60: Stop talking, Ruby, and make it snappy.
[US]I. Shulman Amboy Dukes 117: In here. Make it snappy.
[US]L. Brown Iron City 148: Let’s make it snappy this time.
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves in the Offing 137: I hoped, of course, that he would make it crisp and remove himself at an early date.
[US]M. Rumaker Exit 3 and Other Stories 13: You gonna vomit? Make it snappy.
[US]M. Rodgers Freaky Friday 104: Make it snappy. I haven’t got all day.
[UK]P. Theroux London Embassy 24: Better make it snappy.
[Ire]R. Doyle Snapper 31: Make it snappy, will yeh.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 9 July 8: Make it snappy. No rambling explanations.