The Snarl

The Communicative Implication of the Snarl

A snarl is a facial expressionOpens in new window where the upper lip is raised and the nostrils widen, often accompanied by a threatening vocalization Opens in new window, a growl or vicious utterance, generally indicating hate, anger, or pain.

Wolvering engaged in snarling
Wolvering engaged in snarling. Photo courtesy of GigazineOpens in new window

The word snarl is also used as an onomatopoeiaOpens in new window for the threatening noise to which it refers, as in the 'snarl' of a chainsaw. This usage may be derived from the common expression describing a dog as “growling and snarling”.

One literary use of “snarl” to mean a noise is in The Lord of the Rings in the encounter with the barrow-wight: “In the dark there was a snarling nois” (WikipediaOpens in new window).

It is not only humans that engaged in snarling. Other mammals—including monkeys, rabbits and dogs—also engage in snarling, often to ward off any potential threat.

The threatening vocalizations Opens in new window that accompany snarling often comes synonymously with threatening facial expressions Opens in new window.