“No Step on Snek” – Its Meaning, Origin & Usage

Let’s say you’re minding your own business, enjoying your time online when out of the blue, your friend sends you a picture of a crudely drawn snake, with the caption or the handwritten message “no step on snek”. What could it mean? What could they possibly be trying to tell you? 

This article will lay out the meaning, origins and typical usage of the bizarre meme “no step on snek”.

The Meaning of “No Step On Snek”

If the imagery and words happen to ring a vague bell in your mind, it might be because this phrase and meme format is actually a crude rendition of the Gadsden Flag and the saying “don’t tread on me”. 

Though the original flag features a detailed rendition of a coiled rattlesnake, “no step on snek” features a child-like drawing of a snake, generally made on a program like MS Paint. 

The original meaning of the phrase “Don’t Tread On Me” is based on something Benjamin Franklin once said about how rattlesnakes don’t back down from provocation, and fast became a motto that expressed the thought that the government shouldn’t be involved with sovereign freedoms. This version of the phrase meant “stay away” or “leave me alone”, aimed at governing bodies that want to control your freedom. 

Then, after Donald Trump’s election in 2016, right-wing affiliations took up the mantra and a sign of defiance against the “invading left-wing”. The phrase remained the same at this point, however the connotation changed from being aimed at all branches of the government specifically to the democrats and the “liberal elite”. 

More recently, this iteration of the phrase and its accompanying crudely drawn snake is more about mocking these right-wingers, claiming that they are overzealous or uneducated in a way. It is used to point out, in the liberals eyes, how silly the right-wingers sound or to infantilize them. 

Another meaning of this phrase is to show meekness and request that people leave you alone whilst acknowledging that you might sound weak for doing so. The infantilizing language and drawing designed to show that you mean no harm, but you want them to leave you alone.

Examples of “No Step On Snek”

The Oath Keepers might as well adopt a “no step on snek” flag as their symbol.

Hey! No step on snek please! I’ve had enough of you guys being mean.

This guy was being really weird to me over chat so I told him no step on snek, but he didn’t listen. 

Grr, arg! I’m a republican! No step on snek, y’all.

Other Ways to Say “No Step On Snek”

The obvious synonym for “no step on snek” would be “don’t tread on me”, the original phrase that this idiom is referencing. However, another way to say the same thing would be to simply say “leave me alone” or, if you were more serious about your need to be left alone, you might say “don’t tempt the tiger” or “I’m warning you”. 

These last two similarities convey the idea of the rattlesnake, and suggest that if they don’t leave you alone, you’re going to bite or otherwise retaliate. 

Origins of “No Step On Snek”

The original proverb “Don’t Tread on Me” became a symbol of the revolutionary war. Benjamin Franklin created a series of political cartoons featuring dismembered snakes, a metaphor for the South. In response, Christopher Gadsden, lieutenant Governor of South Carolina, ordered the design and distribution of the coiled rattlesnake to encourage a more positive morale among the troops. 

In 2015, during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, a comic version of the Gadsden Flag, with a poorly drawn snake and the caption “no step on snek” surfaced online and started to become popular. Some people claim that the image was drawn by an actual child whose parents put the picture online, however, the image and use of the meme-work “snek” make it far more likely that it was designed this way intentionally by an adult or at least a teenager. 

It became a popular symbol for right-wingers, similar to Pepe the Frog, but was just as quickly taken up by leftists who would share the meme around to mock the attitudes and intelligence of right-wingers, and suggest that their opinions and emotional regulation was similar to that of a child.

Because of this, it’s actually quite difficult to tell if someone is using the symbol because they’re a right-winger or a leftist, so use your intuition and critical thought when figuring out how to respond to seeing this image wherever you are online.