Snow In: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
October 26, 2023

The idiom “snow in” refers to a situation where something is surrounded by snow, making it impassable, immovable, or inoperable. It can also mean being unable to leave a building or area due to snow.

In short:

Snow in means being trapped or confined due to heavy snowfall.

What Does “Snow In” Mean?

The idiom "snow in" typically refers to being trapped or restricted due to heavy snowfall. When a place is "snowed in," it suggests that snow has accumulated to such an extent that it becomes difficult or impossible to leave or for someone to get to you.

  • "Snow in" means to be confined or trapped in a place because of a snowstorm.
  • It is used to describe situations where movement or access is restricted due to heavy snow. For example, "The village was snowed in for three days after the storm."
  • You can use "snow in" in a sentence like: "The unexpected blizzard snowed us in, and we had to stay an extra night at the cabin." This suggests that the snowfall prevented them from leaving the cabin.
  • Synonyms for "snow in" include "snowbound," "trapped by snow," and "snow-locked."

Where Does “Snow In” Come From?

The word "snow" has its roots in Middle English as "snou," which was derived from Old English "snaw." This term referred to snow, a fall of snow, or even a snowstorm. The word can be traced back to the Proto-Germanic term "*snaiwaz." The figurative sense of "snow," meaning "to overwhelm; surround, cover, and imprison" (similar to how heavy snow can bury things), emerged in 1880 in American English, particularly in the phrase "snowed in" or "to snow (someone) under."

Historical Example

And now that good wife with her husband and Mr. Rhea were housed in Gawar, snowed in under the great crest of

- The Tennesseean in Persia and Koordistan, 1869

10 Examples of “Snow In” in Sentences

Below are examples of “snow in” used in sentences:

  • The blizzard snowed in the entire town, and we couldn’t leave our homes for days.
  • I think so; the heavy snowfall is expected to snow in the cars parked on the street.
  • The mountain pass is often snowed in during winter, making it impassable.
  • We got snowed in at the cabin and had to wait for the snowplows to clear the roads.
  • The sudden snowstorm snowed in the hikers, forcing them to set up camp and wait it out.
  • Make sure to move your car into the garage unless you want it to get snowed in overnight.
  • The residents were snowed in and had to rely on their stored food supplies.
  • The airport was snowed in, leading to the cancellation of all flights.
  • They were snowed in at the ski resort for an extra two days.
  • The small village often gets snowed in during heavy snowfall, cutting it off from the nearby towns.

These examples demonstrate the versatility of the idiom in various contexts and situations.

Examples of “Snow In” in Pop Culture

While specific examples in pop culture may be limited, the concept of being snowed in is often used in movies and literature to create a setting of isolation and test the characters’ resilience and resourcefulness.

Here are a few examples:

  • In the 1940 film, It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey and Mary Hatch are snowed in at Nick's Restaurant on Christmas Eve.
  • In the 1969 song "Snowbound" by the Doobie Brothers, the singer describes being snowed in with his lover.
  • In the 1996 film The English Patient, the four main characters are snowed in in an Italian villa during World War II.
  • In the 2007 film Juno, Juno MacGuff and her friend Leah are snowed in at Juno's house after a snowstorm.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say “Snow In"

You can use some other terms and phrases in a similar context to describe being confined or unable to leave a place.

Below are a few examples:

  • Trapped by snow
  • Confined due to snowfall
  • Stuck in snow
  • Snow-bound
  • Unable to leave because of snow

You can use these terms in similar contexts, but they may not have the exact same connotation as "snow in." It’s always best to choose the term or phrase that most accurately conveys your intended meaning.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About “Snow In”

  • What does “snow in” mean?

“Snow In” refers to being trapped or confined in a place due to heavy snowfall, or something being surrounded by snow, making it impassable or inoperable.

  • Where did the idiom “snow in” originate?

The exact origin is unknown, but it is likely from regions with heavy snowfall where people and things are often snowed in.

  • Is “snow in” used in literature?

Yes, it is used in literature to depict situations of confinement and isolation due to snow.

  • Is the idiom “snow in” used globally?

While the idiom is understood globally, it is more commonly used in regions that experience heavy snowfall.

  • Can “snow in” be used in different tenses?

Yes, like other idioms, "snow in" can be adapted to different tenses, such as "snowed in" for the past tense.

  • Is there a difference between “snow in” and “Snowed In”?

They convey the same idea, but "snow in" is the base form, while "Snowed In" is its past tense.

  • How can I use “snow in” in a positive context?

While being snowed in can be challenging, it can also be seen positively as an opportunity for family bonding, relaxation, or catching up on tasks at home.

  • Are there any synonyms for “snow in”?

While there might not be direct synonyms, phrases like "trapped by snow" or "confined due to snowfall" convey similar meanings.

  • Can “snow in” be used metaphorically?

Yes, it can be used to describe situations where someone feels trapped or confined, not necessarily by snow.

  • Is “snow in” a common idiom in literature?

It is used in literature, especially in stories set in snowy regions or those that depict the challenges of winter.

Final Thoughts About “Snow In”

The idiom "snow in" vividly describes situations that trap individuals or objects due to significant snowfall. It highlights the challenges and ordeals faced during heavy snow, emphasizing the impact of nature on human activities.

  • "Snow In" refers to the state of being trapped or confined due to heavy snowfall.
  • Used to describe something surrounded by snow, making it impassable or inoperable.
  • Commonly used in regions with significant snowfall.
  • You can use "snow in" in various contexts and tenses.
  • Highlights the force of nature and its impact on life and activities.

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