What Does Snake Eyes Mean?

Snake Eyes Meaning

Definition: When two dice each roll a one.

Origin of Snake Eyes

This term is common in gambling games involving dice, such as craps. The expression most likely originated around the 1930s.

Usually, in dice games, high numbers are better than low numbers. Assuming you are playing a game that involves two dice, if both dice land on one, this is the lowest possible roll. It is also, therefore, the least desirable outcome.

The term snake eyes probably comes from the appearance of the single black dot in each die. Together, the two dice with one dot each can resemble the literal eyes of a snake. It is also possible that the animal snake was chosen due to the negative association of the low roll and the animal.

Examples of Snake Eyes

snake eyes definition Here is an example in which two roommates are playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Mario: Okay, the witch attacks your elf.

Axel: Why?

Mario: Because you stole her magic potion! Roll two six sided dice to defend yourself.

Axel: Okay, fine. I got snake eyes.

Mario: You only rolled a two? That’s not enough to block the witch’s spell. Roll again to see what damage you sustain.

Axel: Okay, I got snake eyes again.

Mario: Really? That’s bad luck. I’m sorry to tell you this, but you’re dead.

define snake eyes In this example, two college students are playing a drinking game with dice.

Roger: Okay, so in this game, you roll two dice, and then you show me or tell me what you rolled. Then, I’ll roll the same two dice. Before I look at the amount, I’ll say if I think I got a higher number or a lower number than you. If I’m right, then nothing happens. If I’m wrong, then I take a drink. Then we switch roles. Got it?

Noel: Got it. Okay. I got snake eyes.

Roger: Well, that’s easy. I’ll roll higher than that.

Noel: Okay, roll then.

Roger: Uh oh. I rolled snake eyes as well.

Noel: Then I guess you have to drink!

More Examples

This excerpt is from an article about football. Here, the idiom demonstrates that the football team made a gamble and got the worst possible result.

  • Going from McNeill to Montgomery was a big and unnecessary gamble for athletics director Jeff Compher, and so far it’s come up snake eyes. –USA Today

The second example is also about sports. This football team is trying to move to a new city, but they have not had much luck.

  • With all signs pointing to the Raiders rolling snake eyes in their quest to relocate to Las Vegas, the question now becomes where do the Silver and Black go from here? –OC Register


The term snake eyes means two dice that each show 1 dot on the upward facing side, for a total score of two points.