Been called a 'snowflake'? The 'it' new insult

Apparently a snowflake is not just a little white speck of a winter flurry that we wish for on Christmas day. Lately the term has been used as a slang insult, often used in a derogatory way to suggest that people — often, but not always, young people — who take offense to anything from political policy changes to offensive comments are as weak and vulnerable as a speck of snow.

But the slang term isn’t new — and its use has evolved quite a bit.

In Missouri in the 1860s, a “snowflake” was a person who was against the abolition of slavery, according to Merriam-Webster.

Snowflakes during that time period valued white people over black people and wanted slavery to continue after the Civil War.

During the 1970s, snowflake was used as a derogatory term for white or black people who were perceived as acting white. It was also slang for cocaine, “snow” for short.

Chuck Palahniuk’s 1990s Fight Club novel and the movie adaptation have often been credited as the originator of using this feathery ice crystal in a metaphorical way.

The novel contains this grim reminder: “You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone and we are all part of the same compost pile.”

Today, snowflake is used to describe a person perceived as overly sensitive and fragile, often in a mocking way.

And today’s youth is sometimes derided as “Generation Snowflake.”

Though some point out that a lot of snowflakes make a snowstorm.

USA TODAY COLLEGE


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