snow·​ball | \ ˈsnō-ˌbȯl How to pronounce snowball (audio) \

Definition of snowball

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a round mass of snow pressed or rolled together
2 : any of several cultivated shrubby viburnums (genus Viburnum) with clusters of white sterile flowers

called also snowball bush


snowballed; snowballing; snowballs

Definition of snowball (Entry 2 of 2)

1 intransitive : to increase, accumulate, expand, or multiply at a rapidly accelerating rate a trend that has begun to snowball It was one of those games in which things just snowballed and kept getting worse for Philly …— Paul Zimmerman The snowballing growth of the last few years probably cannot continue forever.— Tamar Lewin
2 transitive : to attack with snowballs : to throw snowballs at Any man so unwise as to walk alone by day was apt to be set upon and snowballed— Fritz Leiber

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Examples of snowball in a Sentence

Noun This snow is perfect for making snowballs. Verb Problems snowball when early trouble signs are ignored. What started as a small annual concert has snowballed into a full-fledged music festival. consumers dealing with snowballing debt
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Nearly every day, the snowball effect of Lebanon's economic meltdown brings new developments. Tamara Qiblawi, CNN, "Dumpster diving, blackouts and suicides. Lebanon's woes laid bare as crisis deepens," 8 July 2020 The expectation is these platforms become more than just a big snowball fight—a place where things are happening, and people can trust the communications on them. Danielle Abril, Fortune, "Hootsuite’s new CEO has some thoughts about Facebook’s advertiser rebellion," 29 June 2020 But the effects of such disputes can be severe, and frequently snowball. Kathryn Joyce, The New Republic, "No Money, No Lawyer, No Justice," 22 June 2020 But the 1-inch snowfall, which was the first that Dani can remember in her hometown of Montgomery, wasn’t quite enough to form more than a snowball. Giana Han, al, "How Dani Loeb became the first Alabamian on the US National Ski team," 14 June 2020 There’s a snowball effect with these things, right? Los Angeles Times, "From Taylor to Elton to J. Lo: How Hugh Evans (and Lady Gaga) assembled ‘One World’ in just two weeks," 17 Apr. 2020 The watershed moment took place as colonists grew weary of occupying British soldiers in the city and began throwing snowballs, stones and sticks at the soldiers. Fox News, "What made the Boston Massacre a pivotal turning point leading up to the American Revolution," 24 Feb. 2020 Based on their preliminary investigation, police believe both of the victims were part of a larger group of minors tossing snowballs at passing vehicles. Danielle Garrand, CBS News, "Kids were throwing snowballs at passing cars — then police say one of the drivers shot them," 6 Jan. 2020 Family activities during the MFAH’s annual holiday experience include games, faux-snow sledding, cotton snowballs, bell stations for music-making and a fun, holiday-themed tour through the historical mansion. Houston Chronicle, "The Must List: Charley Crockett, Los Texmaniacs," 26 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb These scenes went viral on social media, causing widespread anger in Africa and has snowballed into an embarrassing and awkward diplomatic race scandal for Beijing. Youyou Zhou, Quartz Africa, "A Chinese YouTuber shows how China’s political system ends up with Africans being mistreated," 25 Apr. 2020 The result was a U.S. stimulus plan that yesterday seemed to snowball by the hour. Ben Holland,, "Wartime Mood Grips World Leaders, and Debt Fears Melt Away," 12 May 2020 In recent weeks, executives at some Chinese banks and online lending platforms said more consumers have fallen behind on their credit-card and loan payments, which could snowball into higher defaults in the coming months. Stella Yifan Xie And Xie Yu, WSJ, "Kept at Home by the Coronavirus, Many Chinese Fall Behind on Their Debts," 5 Apr. 2020 This sort of situation seems to fit Taggart better than Tallahassee, where things started poorly — in the opening loss to Virginia Tech to start the 2018 season — and snowballed. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "Group of Five spring preview: Biggest questions in the early race for the New Year's Six," 10 Mar. 2020 The fever pitch of feeling fed up or worn out, often with no end in sight, creates a negative loop that snowballs. Alli Harvey, Anchorage Daily News, "Meltdown memories: Learning from the tears," 8 Mar. 2020 Ho says this helps them avoid the negativity that may snowball into bouts of depression. Zee Krstic, Good Housekeeping, "How You Can Help Someone Battling Depression," 23 Apr. 2020 As competition for personal protective equipment, ventilators and other supplies snowballs in the open market, the U.S. and California have done little to intervene. Diya Chacko, Los Angeles Times, "Coronavirus Today: Two bleak milestones," 2 Apr. 2020 Moeller's Aidan Noyes broke a 5-5 tie with a mid-range jump shot and that would snowball into a 17-0 sprint by the Crusaders. Shelby Dermer,, "Moeller basketball books regional final berth with 54-42 victory over Centerville," 12 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'snowball.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of snowball


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1820, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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Time Traveler for snowball

Time Traveler

The first known use of snowball was in the 15th century

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Statistics for snowball

Last Updated

11 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Snowball.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for snowball


How to pronounce snowball (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of snowball

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a ball of snow that someone makes usually for throwing



English Language Learners Definition of snowball (Entry 2 of 2)

: to increase, grow, etc., at a faster and faster rate


snow·​ball | \ ˈsnō-ˌbȯl How to pronounce snowball (audio) \

Kids Definition of snowball

: a round mass of snow pressed or rolled together

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More from Merriam-Webster on snowball

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for snowball

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with snowball

Spanish Central: Translation of snowball

Nglish: Translation of snowball for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about snowball

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