What does the idiom "A snowball's chance in hell" mean?

Idioms are generally defined as groups of words that form a meaningful whole when they come together, even though the words in them do not make sense on their own. They have produced many idioms according to their own cultural characteristics in communities using the English language. What does A snowball's chance in hell mean? In what situations is A snowball's chance in hell used?

Meaning of "A snowball's chance in hell"


The phrase “A snowball’s chance in hell” is an idiom used to express an impossible or slim chance of something being successful. It implies that an endeavor has no likelihood of success and would not get any closer to success in a conceivable amount of time.


The origins of this phrase are unclear, although some sources suggest it dates back to the mid-1800s. This phrase is believed to have been derived from the idea that a snowball would melt in hell due to the extreme heat, giving it no chance to survive. This metaphor is often used to represent a situation in which one is completely doomed and has no hope of succeeding.


This phrase is used to refer to situations in which success is deemed impossible or highly unlikely. It’s often used to express pessimism towards a goal or when someone wants to acknowledge that their chances of success are slim.

Example Sentences

  • We’ve been trying to get this project funded for months but it seems like we have a snowball’s chance in hell of finding the money.
  • There’s no way I’m getting into that college, I have a snowball’s chance in hell.
  • I know I might be grasping at straws here but I’ve got to try - I know I have a snowball’s chance in hell of success.

The meanings of the words in the "A snowball's chance in hell" idiom

From One Language to Another: Idioms in Translation

Translating idioms from one language to another can be a tricky task, as the cultural context behind an idiom can be difficult to capture. For example, the French phrase "avoir le cafard" translates to "to have the cockroach," which means to feel down or depressed. Similarly, the Chinese idiom "????" (j?ng d? zh? w?) translates to "frog at the bottom of a well," which refers to someone with a narrow view of the world.


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