Come on. Snap to it! Read Tim Bowen’s latest musings on word grammar!

Apart from its more common use as a verb, snap can also function as a noun, an adjective and an interjection. As a noun, apart from its use to describe a short, loud noise, as in ‘The lid closed with a snap’, it is normally used as an informal word for photographs taken without the use of professional equipment, as in ‘Do you want to see our holiday snaps?’. It is also used in the expression a cold snap, normally only used in the singular and meaning a short period of time when the weather is very cold. The phrase hot snap does not, alas, exist and the term heat wave is used for hot weather.

As an adjective, snap means ‘decided or arranged very quickly’, as in ‘We shouldn’t be rushed into making any snap decisions’ or ‘The government has decided to call a snap election’.

The interjection snap! is derived from the card game of the same name and can be used when you see two things that are the same, as in ‘Snap! You’ve got exactly the same phone as me.’

Snap is also found in a few idioms, notably snap out of it! used to tell someone to make an effort to stop being unhappy or upset, as in ‘He’s been like this for days and he just won’t snap out of it’, and snap to it, used for telling someone to do something immediately, as in ‘Come on. Snap to it. I want those dishes washed by 7 o’clock’. If you snap something up, you buy it as soon as you see it, as in ‘By 10 o’clock, most of the best bargains had been snapped up’.