A type of firework. Basically, a shock-sensitive explosive is wrapped tightly in paper. When thrown against a hard surface, it explodes, making a loud snap sound.

They are so named because you "whip" them to the ground and then they go "SNAP"!

Whippersnappers allow for great pranks. Placing them in unusual locations, such as door-jambs, on the floor near an entranceway, and nestled in the chain of a bicycle always make for fun surprises. You can also tape one to the bottom of someone's shoe when they're not paying attention.. The minute they get up.. *SNAP!*

I know someone who, on a dare, exploded one between his teeth. He said it stung like hell and left an annoying taste in his mouth for a while. I don't recommend you try it, though, as you may not be as lucky.

This word must be used when a geezer has his fist in the air, shaking it at the youngsters who are tormenting him by their very existence.

He is usually unaware of his place in the great circle of irony.

Ostensibly used to refer to a young and impertinent person by someone who is presumably older and wiser, "whippersnapper" is a word that is rarely used non-ironically in everyday life. In books, movies, and other fictional works, the word is used more to denote the stuffiness and old-fashionedness of the speaker than the qualities of the person he or she is describing as a "whippersnapper".

In the 17th century, the phrase "whip-snapper" referred to inexperienced young cowboys who stood on the sides of streets, passing the time by (among other things) snapping whips, possibly to call attention to themselves. Snapping a whip is the most basic skill learned by a novice cowboy, and so those who were unable to perform more complex tasks nevertheless showed off their prowess by displaying their impressive whip-snapping skills. A phrase that already existed to describe idle and lazy young men, "snipper-snapper", was conflated with "whip-snapper" to denote a beginner who, though unskilled, thinks much of his abilities. Eventually the word evolved to mean someone insignificant who is presumptuous and arrogant enough to annoy those old enough to know better.


A diminutive fellow.

The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

Whip"per*snap`per (?), n.

A diminutive, insignificant, or presumptuous person.

[Colloq.] "Little whippersnappers like you."

T. Hughes.


© Webster 1913.

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