snowflake

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English[edit]

A snowflake (crystal of frozen water)
A snowflake (flower)
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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, pejorative) Someone who believes they are as unique and special as a snowflake; someone hypersensitive to insult or offense, especially a young person with politically correct sensibilities.
    • 1996, Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club:
      You are not special. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same organic and decaying matter as everyone else.
    • 2016, Rebecca Nicholson, The Guardian, 28 November:
      It’s particularly effective given that there’s really no comeback to it: in calling someone a snowflake, you are not just shutting down their opinion, but telling them off for being offended that you are doing so.
    • 2017, 25 April, Couple charged in shooting of protester at Milo Yiannopoulos event in Seattle (in The Guardian)
      Marc Hokoana messaged a friend on Facebook the day before Yiannopoulos was scheduled to talk and said he “can’t wait for tomorrow”, according to police officials. In the Facebook message, obtained by a search warrant, he wrote: “I’m going to the Milo event and if the snowflakes get out off[sic] hand I’m just going to wade through their ranks and start cracking skulls.”
  5. Someone (usually white) who was opposed to the abolition of slavery (Missouri, 1860's) [2]
  6. (opthalmology) 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 0387279334, 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 1416032258, 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 0199716978, 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 derogative) A Caucasian person.

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. (computing, databases) To arrange (data) into a snowflake schema.

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]