There’s an awful lot of snooping going on in my current manuscript, so as Marietta and Slade go peeking into things Devereaux doesn’t want them too, I had to pause to look up the history of the word. =)
I discovered that the verb came first, debuting round about 1832. It’s American English, and carried the original meaning of “to go around in a prying manner.” Definitely fits my undercover detective’s behavior, LOL. Conjecture is that it comes from the Dutch word snoepen, which means “to pry.” Interestingly, the association there is to “eat in secret, eat sweets, sneak.” Oh yeah–sneaking dessert. That’s my kind of snooping! 😉 The precise definition of “prying into others’ business” is attested from 1921.
In the middle of those, about 1891, the noun form joined the party, meaning “detective.” And the adjective “snoopy” followed four years later. Leading, of course, to the cartoon in 1950. 😉
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