• noun an informer. The word (like nark, originally meaning nose) was first used in this sense in the 18th century. It is still used in the USA to mean a paid police informer, whereas in Britain it is largely confined to the language of children, in which it denotes a ‘tell-tale’.
  • verb to inform on (someone). Snitch was originally a slang term for the nose, which was itself used to signify a police spy or grass in the 18th century (as was nark). Snitch began to be used in the verb form in the 19th century and is still in use in the USA, although in Britain it survives mainly in children’s speech, meaning to ‘tell tales’.