Snail Snail (sn[=a]l), n. [OE. snaile, AS. sn[ae]gel, snegel, sn[ae]gl; akin to G. schnecke, OHG. snecko, Dan. snegl, Icel. snigill.] 1. (Zo["o]l.) (a) Any one of numerous species of terrestrial air-breathing gastropods belonging to the genus Helix and many allied genera of the family {Helicid[ae]}. They are abundant in nearly all parts of the world except the arctic regions, and feed almost entirely on vegetation; a land snail. (b) Any gastropod having a general resemblance to the true snails, including fresh-water and marine species. See {Pond snail}, under {Pond}, and {Sea snail}. [1913 Webster]

2. Hence, a drone; a slow-moving person or thing. [1913 Webster]

3. (Mech.) A spiral cam, or a flat piece of metal of spirally curved outline, used for giving motion to, or changing the position of, another part, as the hammer tail of a striking clock. [1913 Webster]

4. A tortoise; in ancient warfare, a movable roof or shed to protect besiegers; a testudo. [Obs.] [1913 Webster]

They had also all manner of gynes [engines] . . . that needful is [in] taking or sieging of castle or of city, as snails, that was naught else but hollow pavises and targets, under the which men, when they fought, were heled [protected], . . . as the snail is in his house; therefore they cleped them snails. --Vegetius (Trans.). [1913 Webster]

5. (Bot.) The pod of the sanil clover. [1913 Webster]

{Ear snail}, {Edible snail}, {Pond snail}, etc. See under {Ear}, {Edible}, etc.

{Snail borer} (Zo["o]l.), a boring univalve mollusk; a drill.

{Snail clover} (Bot.), a cloverlike plant ({Medicago scuttellata}, also, {M. Helix}); -- so named from its pods, which resemble the shells of snails; -- called also {snail trefoil}, {snail medic}, and {beehive}.

{Snail flower} (Bot.), a leguminous plant ({Phaseolus Caracalla}) having the keel of the carolla spirally coiled like a snail shell.

{Snail shell} (Zo["o]l.), the shell of snail.

{Snail trefoil}. (Bot.) See {Snail clover}, above. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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