Thanks for taking time to post again, Amy, I know you're usually busy during the week.
I agree that the AHD usage panel is, or was, one of the most helpful sources available. It represents not just one person's opinion but that of many people, and not just average people on the street (or, worse, the internet), but distinguished professionals who have some credentials or have gained some recognition for good writing. (And IIRC, it includes, but is not dominated by, linguistics professors.)
So I was grateful (as I should have mentioned) to w for posting the AHD usage note, and was interested to read that in its most recent survey, even though that was in 1988, a majority disapproved of 'snuck.' (If I'm not hallucinating? (-: )
Of course I agree with them, and probably with anyone who disagrees with that twit Conan O'Brien the TV comedian, whom I confess I dislike and would not dream of taking as a role model for language or anything else. Going to Harvard or Yale as an undergrad isn't a guarantee of anything, and especially not of thoughtful English; think of good ol' George W.
Granted, it wasn't an overwhelming majority even in 1988, and I'm sure you're right that the percentage would be considerably lower now, maybe indeed less than 50%. Still, I would be curious to know. It's too bad that AHD seems to have done some revision in 2009, but not to the extent of re-surveying a new panel. I hope they'll do that again soon, if it's not just too expensive to be worth the trouble now with all the competition from e-books.
In the meantime, I did the best I could to cite the best other usage sources I know of. At least they're all more recent than 1988, and they and AHD 2009 did all express clear reservations:
But not in Britain, where it is unmistakably taken to be a jocular or nonstandard form.
snuck is ... nonstandard ... dialectal and informal ... The standard past form is sneaked.
In formal contexts, however, sneaked remains the preferred form.
Formal written English is more conservative ..., and here snuck still meets with much resistance.
Many writers and editors have a lingering unease about the form ...
It's actually interesting that the AHD commentary now chooses to describe those writers and editors indirectly, even in a rather patronizing, dismissive tone, instead of simply consulting them directly and reporting the results in a new survey. Could it be that the current dictionary editors too are reluctant to criticize popular usage and defend traditional standards? Just a guess, based of course on my own preferences.
As far as BE usage goes -- which was my real question in starting this thread -- I'm certainly surprised to see so many print examples. While I think your characterization
>>Clearly snuck is used in BE, though considered by many to be a particularly awful Americanism
is probably right on, it would be even better to see comments from our own BE speakers. Anne, MikeE, Spike, Kinky, Phillipp, Robuk, CM2DD, escoville, Carola, Richard, all the rest of you (apologies for my gappy memory) -- what do you think? As long as we have a discussion going here, let's have it.