snail

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snail, name commonly used for a gastropod mollusk with a shell. Included in the thousands of species are terrestrial, freshwater, and marine forms. Some eat both plant and animal matter; others eat only one type of food. Respiration is carried on by gills in the aquatic species; terrestrial forms have a pulmonary sac, or lung, in the mantle cavity. A few terrestrial species have returned to the sea, and consequently must rise to the surface to breathe. Eyes are borne on stalks or tentacles. Many snails, including all land snails, are hermaphroditic, but the majority of the marine species have separate sexes. A snail secretes a slimy path over which it progresses slowly by rhythmic contractions of the muscular base, or foot. Marine and terrestrial snails are eaten in various parts of the world. Snails are considered a delicacy in Europe and were eaten by primitive man and raised for food by the Romans. Certain harmful freshwater species harbor flukes and other parasites that cause disease in humans. Although some land snails cause economic losses by destroying vegetation, even more harm is done to gardens by slugs. Snails are classified in the phylum Mollusca, class Gastropoda.

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snail / snāl/ • n. a mollusk (class Gastropoda) with a single spiral shell into which the whole body can be withdrawn. ∎  (in metaphorical use) any person or thing that moves exceedingly slowly. DERIVATIVES: snail·like / -ˌlīk/ adj.

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snail Terrestrial, marine or freshwater gastropod mollusc. It has a large fleshy foot, antennae on its head, and a coiled protective shell encasing an asymmetric visceral mass. It may breathe through gills (aquatic species) or through a kind of air-breathing lung (terrestrial species), and has a radula – a rasping organ in its mouth. Some species, such as the Roman snail (Helix pomatia), are edible. Length: to 35cm (14in). Class Gastropoda.

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snail OE. snæġ(e)l sneġ(e)l = OS. snegil, MLG. sneil, OHG. snegil (LG. snagel), ON. snigill, f. Gmc. *snaʒ-; *sneʒ-; cf. -LE1.

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snail used in reference to something very slow.
snail mail the ordinary postal system as opposed to electronic mail; the term is recorded from the first half of the 1980s.

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snail The small snail eaten in Europe is Helix pomatia; the giant African snail (which weighs several hundred grams) is Achatima fulica.

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Snail

Military, a D-shaped formation, 1579.

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