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snowball

[snoh-bawl]
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noun
  1. a ball of snow pressed or rolled together, as for throwing.
  2. any of several shrubs belonging to the genus Viburnum, of the honeysuckle family, having large clusters of white, sterile flowers.
  3. a confection of crushed ice, usually in the shape of a ball, which is flavored with fruit or other syrup and served in a paper cup.
  4. a scoop or ball of ice cream covered with shredded coconut and usually chocolate sauce.
verb (used with object)
  1. to throw snowballs at.
  2. to cause to grow or become larger, greater, more intense, etc., at an accelerating rate: to snowball a small business into a great enterprise.
verb (used without object)
  1. to grow or become larger, greater, more intense, etc., at an accelerating rate.

Origin of snowball

1350–1400; Middle English (noun); see snow, ball1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for snowballing

snowball

noun
  1. snow pressed into a ball for throwing, as in play
  2. a drink made of advocaat and lemonade
  3. slang a mixture of heroin and cocaine
  4. a dance started by one couple who separate and choose different partners. The process continues until all present are dancing
verb
  1. (intr) to increase rapidly in size, importance, etctheir woes have snowballed since last year
  2. (tr) to throw snowballs at
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for snowballing

snowball

n.

c.1400, from snow (n.) + ball (n.1). Cf. West Frisian sniebal, Middle Dutch sneubal, German Schneeball, Danish snebold. Expression snowball's chance (in hell) "no chance" is recorded by 1910.

snowball

v.

"to make snowballs," 1680s, from snowball (n.); sense of "to throw snowballs at" (someone) is from 1850. Meaning "to increase rapidly" is attested from 1929, though the image of a snowball increasing in size as it rolls along had been used since at least 1613, and a noun sense of "a pyramid scheme" is attested from 1892. Related: Snowballed; snowballing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper