Is it correct to say "snakes can slide". I presume "snakes can slither/glide" is more common, but is "snakes can slide" wrong?


2 Answers 2


Yes, snakes can “slide”

The verb slide can be used to describe the effortless movement of a snake over a surface.

According to Google Ngrams, snakes glided and slid more frequently in English works of fiction until the mid-1950s. Then an increasing number of authors began writing snake slithered and a few years later the adjectival phrase slithering snakes began to see a sharp increase. In fact, during the 1980s, the verbal phrase “snake slithered” witnessed a steady rise until it peaked in the 2000s while its opponents–snake slid and snake glided plateaued and started to slowly decline around 2010.

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Common collocations used with the animal snake


bite somebody/something, strike sth
She was bitten by a snake while walking through long grass.
The snake lifted up its head before striking its prey.

| slide, slither, wind (its way)
A small green snake slithered across the wet road.
The snake wound its way through the undergrowth.
| hiss, spit | moult, shed its skin | coil (itself) around, coil up, curl up | uncoil

The following examples are taken from Google Books

  1. When she went to bed, the snake slid into her bed and coiled up beside her.

  2. The snake slid still nearer and then started to unravel. Bob hauled again, and the snake uncoiled still farther; its head and neck appeared out of the tangle and struck at us.

  3. The snake slid past me and made for Sophie at considerable speed.

  4. Instantly, the snake slid rapidly down over the footboard and down upon the prostrate form of the burglar where he lay and wrapped its folds around the burglar, so that the burglar could move neither hand nor foot!

  5. When he came to the castle, the snake slid down from the carriage seat and crept up the staircase. Now it was the King's turn to be frightened.

  6. They arrived just as the snake was sliding from one pile of bags to another, making for a small crevice low down in the farthest pile

  7. And in no time at all, all the eggs were gone from the nest and the snake was sliding itself over the dusty earth towards the corner of the pen.

  8. The snake hissed at him, rose up swaying. The dead lieutenant turned his head toward him and cried, each tear a memory. The flesh of the dead man's face was dry against his skull. The snake was sliding against his hip.


I have never heard anyone use 'slide' to refer to the movement of a snake. A sliding snake would suggest to me that the snake is moving without trying like if you put it on a slippery ramp for example.

'Glide' to me would be similar to slide and would suggest the snakes body is not moving but the snake is moving along the ground (or through the air) anyway.

'Slither' is the common verb for the movement of a snake.

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