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Not feeling up to snuff

Posted by Smokey Stover on March 03, 2006

In Reply to: Not feeling up to snuff posted by Kathryn V. Lamkey on March 03, 2006

: We are wondering what the origin of the phrase, "not feeling up to snuff" might be.

What you want to know, I presume, is how the meaning of the phrase relates to snuff. I can't tell you, as my paltry efforts to find out have not revealed the truth. I'll give you what Merriam Websters Online has to say and perhaps you'll find a clue.

"Main Entry: 6snuff
Function: noun
Etymology: Dutch snuf, short for snuftabak, from snuffen to snuff + tabak tobacco
1 : a preparation of pulverized tobacco to be inhaled through the nostrils, chewed, or placed against the gums
2 : the amount of snuff taken at one time
- up to snuff : of sufficient quality : meeting an applicable standard".

The OED has numerous examples of the use of "up to snuff," but nothing that would reveal the relationship to snuff. Perhaps, as the MWOD hints, one could get poor snuff or good snuff, and "up to snuff" meant up to the standard of good snuff. But why snuff? SS