Nowadays, most uses of the term "precious snowflake" are derogatory, such as the following tweet from a pro-Trump Twitter user:

Here's a clue. Get some backbone and stand up for America, by rejecting the precious snowflake SJWs. But that won't happen, will it?

When the term was originally used, was it derogatory, or was it originally positive and turned into an insult?

The term is too recent for the Online Etymology Dictionary, and isn't mentioned in any dictionaries indexed by Onelook apart from Urban Dictionary

  • 1
    You will find special snowflake and snowflake generation in online dictionaries.
    – Mick
    Oct 22, 2016 at 9:33
  • 2
    The term almost certainly originated as a term of affection for a child, but it got hijacked.
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 22, 2016 at 12:23

1 Answer 1


ODO gives the definition of special snowflake which appears to have been used with a negative connotation from the start:

  • A person with supposedly unique characteristics or attributes that entitle them to privileged treatment or particular consideration.
    • they're getting paid either way, just for being the special snowflakes that they are’
    • I admit to being as self-involved as any special snowflake with an Instagram account’.


  • Early 21st century: from the idea that every snowflake is distinct from another, in terms of the arrangement of the ice crystals of which it is composed.

Special snowflake syndrome:

  • (derogatory) The conviction that one (or often, one's child) is, in some way, special and should therefore be treated differently than others.


  • I don't disagree with the content, but wiktionary is some kind of authority?
    – Mitch
    Oct 22, 2016 at 14:07
  • Add the obligatory Fight Club quote?
    – Spencer
    Oct 22, 2016 at 17:51

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