Green’s Dictionary of Slang

snatch v.

1. (US) to steal, esp. to shoplift; thus snatching n.

[[UK] G. Whetstone Mirrour for Magestrates of Citties (2nd edn) H2: He (perhaps) in a Greene Thycket getteth a Masked face, a Pystoll, and a Whypcorde, and have Inheritance in the Ile of Snatch: Aduentreth to Cape Gripe: I know not by what conning shiftes].
Life and Actions of James Dalton 13: I got acquainted with one Thomas Lambert, who agreed to go a Snatching of Pockets in the Streets with me. [Ibid.] 17 : I immediately fell to my old Trade of snatching of Pockets.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Aug. IV 289/1: ‘Which is the thief that stole the gentleman’s purse?’ – ‘That’s him’ – ‘What, Sam Snatch!’.
[UK]J. Greenwood Wilds of London (1881) 64: ‘Snatching’ from passing vehicles appears to be their staple of business.
[UK]G.R. Sims ‘Pickpocket Poems’ Dagonet Ditties 92: I snatched her purse and hooked it / Ere she’d time to make a row.
[UK]R. Whiteing No. 5 John Street 217: That’s why they always has so many lobsters an’ bobbies abaht. Somebody ’ud snatch ’er – lay your life.
[US]S. Ornitz Haunch Paunch and Jowl 69: Aw, if Archie’d stick to his line, and him as good as any Gun what ever snatched a poke, gee, he’d be a Cannon.
[Aus]X. Herbert Capricornia (1939) 70: The others sometimes slipped inside and snatched.
[US]C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 325: Snatch, To steal.
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 12: What we don’t snatch there, I’ll work on myself.
[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. [Internet] Snatch. 1. Stealing by grabbing.
[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 13: No matter what you snatch [...] it’s always, at first glance, worth more than it actually is.

2. (mainly US) to kidnap; thus snatching n.

[US]D. Runyon ‘The Snatching of Bookie Bob’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 118: Many citizens think that all there is to snatching is to round up the party who is to be snatched and then just snatch him.
[US]W. Winchell ‘On Broadway’ 29 Mar. [synd. col.] Intimates of the Levenes, whose child was snatched over a month ago, brought thirty to sixty Gs to Broadwayites (who are ‘close to the underworld’).
[UK]D. Dodge Bullets For The Bridegroom (1953) 33: He weighed the number of gas tickets in his ration book against the possibility that he and Kitty were about to be snatched.
[US]J. Thompson Getaway in Four Novels (1983) 75: They had snatched her and bumped her simply to help Doc.
[US]M. Puzo Godfather 78: They’ve snatched Tom.
[UK]F. Norman Too Many Crooks Spoil the Caper 59: She got snatched by a load of heavies in a limousine.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skin Tight 69: A girl gets snatched from in front of your office.
[US]B. Gifford Night People 45: Big Betty and Cutie had moved into the Rod & Gun Club the night before they snatched Rollo Lamar.
[US]‘Dutch’ ? (Pronounced Que) [ebook] First thing in the morning, we gonna snatch that bitch up!

3. (US black) to threaten someone by grabbing their lapels and talking menacingly into their face; also fig. use, to critically butt in.

[US]Z.N. Hurston Dust Tracks On a Road (1995) 620: I used to notice how Mama used to snatch Papa. That is, he would start to put up an argument [...] but Mama would pitch in with a single word.
[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].

In compounds

SE in slang uses

In compounds

snatch-back (n.)

repossession, e.g. of a car when the buyer defaults on credit payments.

[UK] in G. Tremlett Little Legs 160: With snatch-backs the finance company lets you have the car for whatever money they want back to make good on the loan.

In phrases

snatch one’s time (v.) (also snatch it, snatch one’s bit, snatch one’s rent) [i.e. to snatch one’s time back for oneself]

(Aus.) to resign.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 13 July 14/3: Will someone on the mainland tell me whether the slang phrase, ‘Snatch it’, is used there by miners when they announce their intention of ‘drawing their time’? It is common on the mining fields of Tassy.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 28 Oct. 22/4: A shearer. .. never gets ‘sacked’. He always ‘pelts it in’ or ‘snatches his bit’.
[Aus] in A. Marshall These Are My People (1957) 145: I could see the best thing I could do was toddle, so I rolled up and snatched it.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 16 Jan. 17/2: That night, after carefully putting the rag to bed, the comp. snatched his time. He was 20 miles away next morning.
[Aus]L. & C. Rees Spinifex Walkabout 76: The cook had a bit of a row with the overseer and had ‘snatched his rent’ – given notice [AND].
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 21 Oct. 30/3: The woolpresser snaps: ‘I’m snatching it as soon as I take this one out of the press. Write it out for me.’.
[Aus]B. Foley Shearers’ Poems 11: Then there was the day He said he’d ‘snatch his rent’ And when asked why he wanted to go ‘I’m a failure as a ‘cordon Bleu’ it’s time I really went’ [AND].
[Aus]J. Williams White River 40: Once they got you here, you felt the power of the company... To hell with the civil liberties you once thought you possessed. Snatching your time didn’t pay [AND].
[Aus]R. Aven-Bray Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 45: Snatch it Resign from a job.
[Aus]Aus. Word Map [Internet] snatch it. To resign or quit from a job.
snatch on (v.)

(US black) to forcefully fondle sexually when the recipient is unwilling.

[US]T.R. Houser Central Sl. 48: snatch-on To touch, and finger the private parts of another, especially a woman. ‘They don’t be rapin’ on me, but they snatched-on-me.’.
snatch up (v.)

(US black) to arrest.

[US]Kramer & Karr Teen-Age Gangs 163: Ever since my cousin got snatched up his old enemies pick on him. He don’t hardly dare fight back or the probation guys pick him up fast.
[US](con. 1982–6) T. Williams Cocaine Kids (1990) 138: snatched up apprehended by police.