I know new words get added to the dictionary every year, but I’m baffled by seeing the word “snuck” used in everyday writing.
Over the last month, I’ve read how the CIA snuck six U.S. Embassy staffers out of Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis, how columnist Rich Tosches snuck away from his job at the L.A. Times to pick up his daughter from school, how Sara Moulton of the Associated Press snuck whole-wheat flour into a recipe and how Rick Steves snuck some ketchup onto his Thuringer brat while eating at an outdoor German market.
I might be one of the last writers around that still uses “sneaked” as the past participle of sneak. My English instructors always said “snuck” was not a real word.
Apparently it is now, but that doesn’t mean I’ll ever use it in my business writing or in my informal writing either. (In fact, this WordPress blog doesn’t recognize it as a word.)
Just like the word ain’t, snuck may be in some dictionaries, but it just doesn’t sound correct to me. Even if I read it in the newspaper, see it written in articles online or hear a television anchor read it aloud over the air, I’m not using it. And I refuse to utter it in casual conversation with friends.
The only time I might consider writing it would be as part of something a fictional character might say in a short story, novel or play.
I refuse to use snuck in all my other writing for one simple reason: my reader might have had an English teacher just like mine. In that case, I think it’s better to be “sneaked” than sorry.