About This Word

snowflake

or snowflake generation

[snoh-fleyk]

What does snowflake mean?

No, we're not ❄ walking in a winter wonderland ❄. Snowflake, here, is a political insult for someone who is perceived as too sensitive, often used for millennials and liberals.

Related words:

See how it's used

snowflake

Applerouth

Where does snowflake come from?

The contemporary insult snowflake was popularized by the 1996 novel and 1999 film adaptation Fight Club, which tells the story's wannabe fighters: "You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake.” 

Fight Club's snowflake, though, isn't its earliest instance as an insult. During the Civil War in Missouri, pro-slavery advocates were called snowflakes for valuing whites over blacks. (That's a diss we can get behind.) Over a century later in the 1970s, black people who were seen as acting too white were mocked as snowflakes. The idea, here, is whiteness—like snow. Fight Club, nevertheless, did help to spread snowflake as a contemporary insult online in the 2000s to tease sheltered, helicopter-parented, everyone-gets-a-trophy young adults. The core metaphor is that such people are delicate like snowflakes, easily hurt by the hard realities of life, and think of themselves as special without realizing they are entitled and privileged— because every snowflake is different, as they say.

The term snowflake generation, or generation snowflake, emerged after a prominent 2015 dispute between the Yale University administration and students, who were upset by culturally appropriative Halloween costumes. Snowflake generation insulted the students as too politically correct, too easily offended, too soft in their demands for safe spaces, trigger warnings, preferred pronouns, and social justice. In 2016, snowflake became much more politicized and more malicious. After the polarizing decision of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, the alt-right especially adopted snowflake to insult the political left who were upset by the events and concerned about rising nationalism and bigotry. Liberals, though, have thrown snowflake right back at them, with comedians like Neal Brennan and political commentator Van Jones calling Donald Trump a snowflake for his thin skin.

Reddit

Who uses snowflake?

Truer to its Fight Club origins, snowflake is often used by "back in my day" folks to criticize millennials and Generation Z for being coddled, whiny, and in need of kid-gloves treatment.

Since 2016, snowflake has become a go-to insult among Trump supports to attack the left:

Others have lobbed snowflake right back at them to call out their hypocrisy:

Some on the left have worked to embrace snowflake. Actor and activist George Takei of Star Trek fame observed that, en masse, snowflakes can form an "avalanche" of political change:

Actress and activist Pauly Perrette similarly reclaimed snowflake, using the hashtag "#IAmSnowflake" to show support for social justice.

For example

Weak Internet Man Calls Arnold Schwarzenegger a "Snowflake," Gets Blasted By Mr. Freeze Joke

Brett Williams, Men's Health (headline), June, 2018

This liberal snowflakes are too damaged for adulthood / *curls into a ball at the thought of a transgender fighter pilot*

@LOLGOP, September, 2017

Political correctness is just herd psychology pushed by insecure people whom desperately seek social conformity. #snowflakes #MAGA

@leemgourlay, April, 2017

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