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1. a storm with a lot of snow and strong winds

2.  a sudden large amount of something that must be dealt with

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The term blizzard appeared in American English with the meaning ‘a sharp blow or knock’ in the early part of the 19th century. It started to be used to refer to a violent snowstorm in the middle of that century, also in the US. Like ‘flurry’ its etymology is uncertain; again like ‘flurry’, the OED attributes a ‘more or less onomatopoeic’ origin to it.


One of the most famous references to a blizzard comes in the journals of the explorer Robert Scott, shortly before he and his companions perished in the course of their doomed attempt to be the first team to reach the South Pole. In March 1912 he wrote: “He [Captain Oates] said, ‘I am just going outside and may be some time.’ He went out into the blizzard and we have not seen him since.” Blizzards are commonly said to rage, howl and roar, to batter and blind. They are also often described as ‘freak‘. Blizzard is used figuratively, usually to refer to things that come suddenly in large quantities and must be dealt with or processed: data, facts, information, numbers, paperwork, questions and statistics. People also refer to a blizzard of bad news, criticism, lawsuits and lies. Whether literal or metaphorical blizzards are not good news.


“My favorite thing of all time is a New York City weekend when there’s a blizzard.”
(Idina Menzel)

“The pressure to compete, the fear somebody else will make the splash first, creates a frenzied environment in which a blizzard of information is presented and serious questions may not be raised.”
(Carl Bernstein)

Related words

downpour, hailstorm, whiteout

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

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