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Snodgrass is a somewhat uncommon English surname originating from Scotland. It occurs in many alternate forms, including Snodgers, Snedgrass, and Snadgrass; in all cases it comes from the Old English words snod, meaning 'smooth' or 'trimmed', and grass, meaning grass. Snodgrass was originally the name of a village near what is now Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland, now living on only the in the names of residents long since dispersed.

Despite there being some reasonably famous personages bearing the name -- such as the Scottish footballer Robert Snodgrass and the poet William De Witt Snodgrass -- the name is primarily recognized as a comedic flourish. This appears to have started with Charles Dickens, who introduced Augustus Snodgrass, a poet who never writes a poem, as character in the Pickwick Papers (1836). Not long thereafter, Mark Twain wrote The Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass Letters (1856), one of his earliest attempts at a writing in a vernacular voice.

Other appearances include Ogden Nash's Are You a Snodgrass? (1945), a poem about a war over the proper way to sugar one's cereal, held between the Snodgrasses and the Swozzlers, and passing references to Snodgrasses in everything from The Mad Scientists' Club to Singin' in the Rain. It is generally used as a silly name but not one particularly laden with subtext; a Snodgrass need not be dumb or boring or clumsy, they are simply a bit of flare to spice up the normally dreary landscape of surnames.


"In the words of that immortal bard Samuel J. Snodgrass, as he was about to be lead to the guillotine: Make 'em laugh"
-- Cosmo, Singing in the Rain.