snowflake

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See also: snow-flake

English[edit]

A snowflake (crystal of frozen water)
A snowflake (flower)

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From snow +‎ flake[1]. Compare Saterland Frisian Sneeflokke (snowflake).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

snowflake (plural snowflakes)

  1. A crystal of snow, having approximate hexagonal symmetry.[1]
  2. Any of several bulbous European plants, of the genus Leucojum, having white flowers.[1]
  3. The snow bunting, Plectrophenax nivalis.[1]
  4. (slang, derogatory) Someone who believes they are as unique and special as a snowflake.
    • 1996, Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, published 2005, →ISBN, page 134:
      When I come home, one space monkey is reading to the assembled space monkeys who sit covering the whole first floor. “You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile.”
  5. (slang, derogatory) Someone hypersensitive to insult or offense, especially a young person with politically correct sensibilities.
    • 2017, Dylan Kyle, quoted in "Campus Voices", The Mugdown (Texas A&M University), August 2017, page 15:
      When have words ever hurt anyone? The triggered snowflakes at this liberal university are trying to literally murder our freedom of speech.
    • 2017, Ben Brill, "What's wrong with saying 'Happy holidays' this December", High Tide (Redondo Union High School), 20 October 2017, page 7:
      Fox News pundits claim to be upset because companies are choosing to embrace the "holidays" rather than "Christmas" to avoid offending any liberal snowflakes.
    • 2020, Erin McLaughlin, "Free speech cowed at GMU", The Collegian (Grove City College), 31 January 2020, page 8:
      Within a few minutes of stepping foot on the school grounds, a triggered snowflake called the police. Multiple officers accosted Kevin McMahon, a YAF staffer, and threatened to arrest him for exercising his free speech rights since he was outside the designated "free speech area."
    • For more quotations using this term, see Citations:snowflake.
  6. (ophthalmology) A type of lesion that appears as scattered white-brown spots under high magnification light microscopy.
    • 2007, Kenneth W. Wright, Peter H. Spiegel, & Lisa Thompson, Handbook of Pediatric Retinal Disease, →ISBN, page 195:
      Robertson and colleagues reported 10 patients in four families with lesions similar to those of stage I and stage II snowflake generation.
    • 2010, Roger F. Steinert, Cataract Surgery, →ISBN, page 525:
      The authors have recently analyzed a PMMA lens explanted because of snowflake degeneration in the dry and hydrated states.
    • 2011, Elias I. Traboulsi, Genetic Diseases of the Eye, →ISBN, page 520:
      These defects may be more pronounced in the superior visual field, perhaps corresponding to the inferior predilection for the snowflake lesions.
  7. Something that is unique in every presentation.
    • 2016 July 14, Sara Schabe and Krysten Massa, “North Fork native begins stem cell treatment to battle MS”, in Suffolk Times:
      MS is referred to as a “snowflake” disease because symptoms vary from person to person.
  8. (slang, usually derogatory) A Caucasian person.
  9. (historical) Someone (usually white) who was opposed to the abolition of slavery (Missouri, 1860s) [2]

Usage notes[edit]

The pejorative sense of "an overly sensitive person" arose from a still-common misconception that no two snowflakes are alike. "Snowflake" as a derogatory term was popularized by its use in the 1996 novel Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk (see quotation above), but the insult had existed for a significant amount of time prior to this, although not in popular use. In recent years, the meaning has expanded from "a person who believes they are unique" to also denote someone who is too sensitive and is easily offended, based on conceptions of snowflakes' fragility and weakness.

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

See also[edit]

Verb[edit]

snowflake (third-person singular simple present snowflakes, present participle snowflaking, simple past and past participle snowflaked)

  1. To fall in the manner of a snowflake.
    • 1966, James Workman, The Mad Emperor, Melbourne, Sydney: Scripts, page 143:
      Like a seagull swooping, the white figure of a victim snowflaked against the cliff and then plummeted down.
  2. (computing, databases) To arrange (data) into a snowflake schema.

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 snowflake” listed in the Oxford English Dictionary [2nd Ed.; 1989]
  2. ^ The lost history of 'snowflake'” from Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Anagrams[edit]