Definition of snowball in US English:

snowball

noun

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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Since then the skis have been gathering dust and the local children have had very few opportunities to throw snowballs at one another.’
    • ‘There was Justin, all bundled up in a huge black snowsuit, throwing a snowball at Tiffany.’
    • ‘I locked them in their room after they threw snowballs at me.’
    • ‘Another winter evening, many many years ago, Beth had found herself pummeled by snowballs thrown by a pack of mean kids after school.’
    • ‘Only last week he was in a group encouraging them to throw snowballs at the elderly.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The noises were snowballs being thrown at the bus.’
    • ‘We threw snowballs, fell over, laughed, pushed each other and generally behaved like children.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We have had snowballs thrown at us when they went past, but this was a deliberate and malicious act.’
    • ‘The children were scraping the snow into snowballs and throwing them playfully.’
    • ‘It turned out to be a snowball thrown by someone from the street 15 feet below.’
    • ‘The boy's mother claimed her son had been assaulted after throwing a single snowball and she was calling the police.’
    • ‘Inconspicuously, she made a snowball and threw it at Tara.’
    • ‘To get her attention, he threw a snowball at her.’
    • ‘The children love to play in it, and they savor the memory long after the last snowball has been thrown.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1 A thing that grows rapidly in intensity or importance.
      as modifier ‘the closures are expected to have a snowball effect, impacting jobs and tax revenues’
      ‘a public-debt snowball’
      • ‘The snowball of doubt he lobbed in ‘Strong’ has now accumulated into a burgeoning avalanche of misanthropy.’
      • ‘Scrutiny of last season reveals a snowball that grew into an avalanche of problems.’
      • ‘Did she stop to think for a second how her decision had a snowball effect?’
      • ‘The snowball of hatred that took decades to grow will not be melted overnight, even by radical changes in US foreign policy.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Worst of all may be the cumulative or snowball effects on future generations.’
      • ‘They increase the size of their snowballs by working with connected communities - blogging intelligently, nurturing online dialogue, collaborating intelligently.’
  • 2A cocktail containing gin, anisette, and cream.

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

    • ‘It reminds me of a Hostess snowball only better - more alluring.’
    • ‘Then there were snowball cookies, which I think are the most suitable cookies for Christmas.’
    • ‘The three-packs of snowballs and caramel teacakes are being sold through petrol station forecourts and other outlets.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Snowball cookies are definitely the cookie of my choice for Christmas.’
    • ‘Tunnock's has been making its snowballs, caramel wafers and teacakes for 50 years.’

verb

  • 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’
    • ‘It grew on them, and snowballed into a major countrywide hit.’
    • ‘The problem is quickly snowballing out of control.’
    • ‘The ambitious vision then was that this coalition would snowball into one single consolidated unit which would grow into greater strength.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Things will get better and bands will become motivated and eventually it will snowball into something of importance.’
    • ‘Bad luck - the change of just a few atoms - snowballs into metabolic disaster.’
    • ‘The whole incident deteriorated rapidly as the conflicting claims snowballed into a near-crisis.’
    • ‘From there things snowballed until a violent civil war burst into the colonies.’
    • ‘Debts snowballed as card holders paid off one card with another.’
    • ‘This creates more free electrons and the process snowballs.’
    • ‘What begins as a private family dilemma snowballs into a very public display of social embarrassment.’
    • ‘But its global economic importance has been snowballing since China's Communist rulers decreed an experiment in capitalist economics there in 1980.’
    • ‘I nodded absently, still humming the song as I thought about the dilemma that was rather rapidly snowballing.’
    • ‘Identifying problem areas well in time, allows the company to set right the situation before it snowballs into customer dissatisfaction.’
    • ‘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 effect snowballs, allowing smaller predators like foxes, hawks, owls, and pine martens to flourish.’
    • ‘When we started to promote the course, recruitment snowballed by word of mouth.’
    • ‘The whole thing snowballed, and soon journalists stopped bothering to contact Robert before quoting him.’
    • ‘As soon as you appear on a few spam lists, it just snowballs.’
    • ‘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.’

Phrases

  • a snowball's chance (in hell)

    • informal No chance at all.

      ‘the plan has a snowball's chance in hell of being accepted’
      • ‘There's a snowball's chance in hell that I could find a dirt-cheap flight on Sunday and actually attend the thing.’
      • ‘And the chances of the budget being balanced is a snowball's chance in Hell.’
      • ‘There's not a snowball's chance in hell that everything will be ready for 2007.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But the truth is he hasn't a snowball's chance in hell of being elected.’
      • ‘I might have a snowball's chance in hell of winning.’
      • ‘But they have a snowball's chance in hell of being enacted.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’

Pronunciation

snowball

/ˈsnōˌbôl//ˈsnoʊˌbɔl/