The Brief: Snowflake is an insulting term for millennials, liberals, or anyone perceived as overly sensitive.

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Popular among conservatives and members of the Alt-Right, calling someone a “snowflake” is a way to dismiss them for being overly sensitive, politically correct, and liberal. It often refers to millennials, to make fun of their politics, or for having grown up with participation trophies.

According to Merriam Webster, the term dates back to the 1860s, when it was used in Missouri to refer to those who were against the abolition of slavery, a reference to snow’s whiteness and their white supremacy. However, this usage did not last nor did it spread far outside of Missouri. “Snowflake” has also been used in the 1970s as “a disparaging term for a white man or for a black man who was seen as acting white” and as a slang term for cocaine.

The modern usage of the term rose to prominence leading up to the 2016 election. According to the author of the novel Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk, he first used the term in his book in a line spoken by the character Tyler Durden:

β€œYou are not special. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same organic and decaying matter as everyone else” – Tyler Durden, Fight Club

What Is Generation Snowflake?

“Snowflake” can be shorthand for “millennials.” It can be used as an umbrella term to criticize members of this generation for their socially and politically liberal leanings and propensity to using inclusive language. The idea is that like actual snowflakes, millennials are delicate, fragile, and believe that they’re unique and therefore special.