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My maternal grandparents were Germans who grew up in German-speaking communities of Russia, hence their dialect might vary substantially from German as it is spoken in Germany. My mom one day recently referred to our dog as 'schnap-shnoot' (a phonetic rendition), which she translated as 'smart-nose.' But I can't find anything about it on any German language translation sites. It sounds vaguely Yiddish to me, but I couldn't find anything like it on Yiddish sites either. Is this even a real phrase? Or could it be some kind of English hybrid?

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That's most likely German:

Your mom literally called the dog a "snappy snout".

"schnappen" is very straightforward - "to snap" in the sense of "biting", "grabbing" or "nipping".

"Schnut" is a dialect version of "Schnute - a term with meaning of "snout". It's a version used in the Danube Swabian dialect and this has a lot of similarities to Russian German as spoken in the small, isolated communities. Considering the context, I'm sure that is the case here as well.

If your mother gives a slightly different translation, remember that words always carry an abstract meaning and a dog that is quick to snap at something, can in English be called a "smart ...".

  • Thanks Stephie! I thought the phrase was funny and wanted to know more about it. My mom doesn't really know German, except phrases (like this one) she picked up from her parents. – Sarah M. Aug 28 '17 at 21:19

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