Pure as the Driven Snow – Origin and Meaning

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

As pure as the driven snow means being completely pure, clean, and free from anyimpurity or wrongdoing. For instance, a young, uncorrupted person may be said to be as pure as the driven snow.  This expression hails from a variation of the phrase used in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, first performed in 1605.

As an idiom, it is also a simile that connects the snow, purity, and the subject it is being compared to. Idioms are words and phrases used figuratively to explain something rather than literally. These phrases are essential to English grammar, helping you master informal speech patterns.

Please keep reading to understand its meaning and origins and learn how to use it through various examples.

Pure as the Driven Snow Meaning

Pure as the Driven Snow – Origin and Meaning

Pure as the driven snow is an idiom describing someone or something innocent, above reproach, or uncontaminated. The expression is a simile, meaning it is used in a sentence to compare one thing with something else using the words like and as.

This figurative phrase is used not only to create an analogy between purity and snow but also between purity and whatever or whomever it is being used to describe.

Pure as the Driven Snow Synonyms

  • Spotless
  • Immaculate
  • Unblemished
  • Untainted
  • Unsullied
  • Pristine
  • Faultless
  • Stainless
  • Wholesome
  • Innocent

Using Pure as the Driven Snow in a Sentence

  • The young child’s heart was pure as the driven snow, untouched by the world’s harsh realities.
  • Clara’s intentions were always pure as the driven snow; she never had any ulterior motives or hidden agendas.
  • The charity organization’s financial records were found to be pure as the driven snow, with no evidence of misappropriation or fraud.
  • Her white wedding dress was as pure as the driven snow, gleaming with an immaculate radiance.
  • The child’s innocence and honesty were as pure as the driven snow, making everyone admire their genuine nature.
  • After a fresh snowfall, the landscape outside her window looked as pure as the driven snow, untouched by any footprints.

Pure as the Driven Snow Origins

Pure as the Driven Snow Ngram
Pure as the driven snow usage trend.

Some sources suggest that pure as the driven snow stems from the association of white with purity, as seen in so many early cultural practices of white being the color of the bride’s garments before marriage.

Even as early as the 1400s, this relationship was well established, as seen in John Lydgate’s “Henry VI’s Triumphal Entry into London, where he describes the King as:

Alle cladde in white, in tokne off clennesse, Lyche pure virgynes.

Shakespeare used this idiom in different ways. In 1605, in “Macbeth,” Malcolm says, “be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow.” In 1611, in “The Winter’s Tale,” Autolycus describes the lawn as “white as driven snow.”

Let’s Review

The idiom pure as the driven snow signifies something or someone untainted, spotless, and innocent. This simile connects the color white with purity, highlighting a person’s innate ability to remain beyond reproach.

Although the phrase may not have been initially used in this exact way, it was popular in Shakespeare’s plays, indicating its familiarity in that era. Its modern usage likely emerged in the mid to late 1800s.