Definition of snowball in English:



  • 1A ball of packed snow, especially one made for throwing at other people for fun.

    ‘they pelted him with snowballs’
    • ‘Fans began to throw snowballs at each other in the packed uncovered north end and some stewards made a snowman on the empty south terrace.’
    • ‘There was Justin, all bundled up in a huge black snowsuit, throwing a snowball at Tiffany.’
    • ‘Another winter evening, many many years ago, Beth had found herself pummeled by snowballs thrown by a pack of mean kids after school.’
    • ‘We have had snowballs thrown at us when they went past, but this was a deliberate and malicious act.’
    • ‘We threw snowballs, fell over, laughed, pushed each other and generally behaved like children.’
    • ‘The noises were snowballs being thrown at the bus.’
    • ‘Since then the skis have been gathering dust and the local children have had very few opportunities to throw snowballs at one another.’
    • ‘At one point I fell over on open ground and all the other youngsters descended on me and threw snowballs into my face very hard from close range.’
    • ‘Sighing, she slide down the tree she had been leaning against and packed a snowball, idly throwing it into the stream in front of her.’
    • ‘The children love to play in it, and they savor the memory long after the last snowball has been thrown.’
    • ‘The children were scraping the snow into snowballs and throwing them playfully.’
    • ‘A play area featuring igloos and snow castles is planned where toddlers would be able to build snowmen and throw snowballs and there would also be room for tobogganing.’
    • ‘Inconspicuously, she made a snowball and threw it at Tara.’
    • ‘To get her attention, he threw a snowball at her.’
    • ‘Only last week he was in a group encouraging them to throw snowballs at the elderly.’
    • ‘The boy's mother claimed her son had been assaulted after throwing a single snowball and she was calling the police.’
    • ‘I locked them in their room after they threw snowballs at me.’
    • ‘Denny managed to pack a snowball together and threw it at my chest.’
    • ‘I remember one day it had been snowing, and one apprentice had a snowball, threatening to throw it at me.’
    • ‘It turned out to be a snowball thrown by someone from the street 15 feet below.’
    1. 1.1 A thing that grows rapidly in size, intensity, or importance.
      ‘a public-debt snowball that could grow to American proportions’
      as modifier ‘the closures are expected to have a snowball effect, impacting jobs and tax revenues’
      • ‘They increase the size of their snowballs by working with connected communities - blogging intelligently, nurturing online dialogue, collaborating intelligently.’
      • ‘It now appears that the snowball has already grown in size and discrimination.’
      • ‘And that had a snowball effect; we have gradually being getting better and better.’
      • ‘The snowball of hatred that took decades to grow will not be melted overnight, even by radical changes in US foreign policy.’
      • ‘Worst of all may be the cumulative or snowball effects on future generations.’
      • ‘Scrutiny of last season reveals a snowball that grew into an avalanche of problems.’
      • ‘The snowball of doubt he lobbed in ‘Strong’ has now accumulated into a burgeoning avalanche of misanthropy.’
      • ‘Did she stop to think for a second how her decision had a snowball effect?’
      • ‘I've sat across the table from editors and producers when the snowball has grown so large it has to be thrown; so much has gone into the story that nothing is going to stop it from airing.’
  • 2A cocktail containing advocaat and lemonade.

  • 3A dessert resembling a ball of snow, especially one containing or covered in ice cream.

    • ‘Then there were snowball cookies, which I think are the most suitable cookies for Christmas.’
    • ‘So they were just pistachio snowball cookies, which was okay, but I'd have loved to taste the combination of pistachio AND lemon together… maybe next time.’
    • ‘Tunnock's has been making its snowballs, caramel wafers and teacakes for 50 years.’
    • ‘It reminds me of a Hostess snowball only better - more alluring.’
    • ‘The three-packs of snowballs and caramel teacakes are being sold through petrol station forecourts and other outlets.’
    • ‘Snowball cookies are definitely the cookie of my choice for Christmas.’


  • 1with object Throw snowballs at.

    ‘I made sure the other kids stopped snowballing Celia’
    • ‘They were in a Missouri town and Louis, on the way to the theatre with his female companion, was snowballed by some hoodlums.’
    sudden, dramatic, rapid, abrupt, meteoric
    View synonyms
  • 2no object Increase rapidly in size, intensity, or importance.

    ‘the campaign was snowballing’
    • ‘But its global economic importance has been snowballing since China's Communist rulers decreed an experiment in capitalist economics there in 1980.’
    • ‘It grew on them, and snowballed into a major countrywide hit.’
    • ‘Right now, it seems more important to me to just keep doing and building, and then worry about money later on, once the whole thing snowballs a bit more…’
    • ‘The whole incident deteriorated rapidly as the conflicting claims snowballed into a near-crisis.’
    • ‘The government has this fear that these organizations will grow gradually until they snowball to the point where they affect the power of the government or even political stability itself.’
    • ‘The whole thing snowballed, and soon journalists stopped bothering to contact Robert before quoting him.’
    • ‘What begins as a private family dilemma snowballs into a very public display of social embarrassment.’
    • ‘I nodded absently, still humming the song as I thought about the dilemma that was rather rapidly snowballing.’
    • ‘Things will get better and bands will become motivated and eventually it will snowball into something of importance.’
    • ‘Debts snowballed as card holders paid off one card with another.’
    • ‘Identifying problem areas well in time, allows the company to set right the situation before it snowballs into customer dissatisfaction.’
    • ‘The effect snowballs, allowing smaller predators like foxes, hawks, owls, and pine martens to flourish.’
    • ‘From there things snowballed until a violent civil war burst into the colonies.’
    • ‘The ambitious vision then was that this coalition would snowball into one single consolidated unit which would grow into greater strength.’
    • ‘As soon as you appear on a few spam lists, it just snowballs.’
    • ‘One thing is for certain, however, the lively debate surrounding the film - be it political or environmental - should serve to guarantee that profits snowball at the box office.’
    • ‘The problem is quickly snowballing out of control.’
    • ‘Bad luck - the change of just a few atoms - snowballs into metabolic disaster.’
    • ‘This creates more free electrons and the process snowballs.’
    • ‘When we started to promote the course, recruitment snowballed by word of mouth.’


  • a snowball's chance (in hell)

    • informal No chance at all.

      ‘the scheme has a snowball's chance in hell of being accepted’
      • ‘I might have a snowball's chance in hell of winning.’
      • ‘There's a snowball's chance in hell that I could find a dirt-cheap flight on Sunday and actually attend the thing.’
      • ‘But the truth is he hasn't a snowball's chance in hell of being elected.’
      • ‘And the chances of the budget being balanced is a snowball's chance in Hell.’
      • ‘But then, it does fit the general picture which is that of a side who ignore convention, defy logic and who, even though nobody thinks they have a snowball's chance in hell, could well win the Champions League.’
      • ‘Watching them in their first round provincial game with St Gaul's nobody would have given them a snowball's chance in hell of reaching the All-Ireland final.’
      • ‘However, since the thing has not a snowball's chance in hell of passing the state legislatures, I can't say this swings my vote much one way or the other.’
      • ‘There's not a snowball's chance in hell that everything will be ready for 2007.’
      • ‘But they have a snowball's chance in hell of being enacted.’
      • ‘I can't remember another archaeological survey where the competition has been so fierce, and if I thought that they had a snowball's chance in hell of finding anything out there, I'd be worried.’