General English


  • noun a game played on a table in which a white ball struck with a cue is used to hit fifteen red balls and six balls of different colours into holes called pockets at the edges of the table


  • noun a game like billiards played with twenty-two balls of various colours, the object being to hit a white ball so that it sends a ball of another colour into one of the ‘pockets’ at the edge of the table

Origin & History of “snooker”

The most widely canvassed theory of the origins of the term snooker is that it is an adaptation of late 19th-century army slang snooker ‘new cadet’ (‘These embryo generals were called by the somewhat sneering terms of “snookers” or “last-joined”,’ Routledge’s every Boy’s Annual 1872). The game was invented, as a diversion perhaps from the monotony of billiards, by British army officers serving in India in the 1870s, and the story goes that the term snooker was applied to it by colonel Sir Neville Chamberlain (1856–1944), at that time a subaltern in the Devonshire Regiment stationed in Jubbulpore, in allusion to the inept play of one of his brother officers. The ancestry of snooker ‘new cadet’, however, remains a mystery.