Pure As the Driven Snow – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Would you like to say that something is completely honest, or unfiltered and totally pure? The phrase ‘pure as the driven snow’ is a common English language saying that can refer to physical things or emotional concepts. This post unpacks the meaning, origin, and common use of the expression.

Meaning

The phrase ‘pure as the driven snow’ is a common saying in the English language.

When it’s said or used, the phrase ‘pure as the driven snow’ can be used to mean that something is either physically pure, or pure in spirit and heart.

Context for what is described to be as ‘pure as the driven snow’ is usually given by the speaker, but it can also be implied by the rest of the discussion.

Something can be described to be as ‘pure (or sometimes white) as the driven snow’ as correct use of the saying.

Something can also be described as the opposite, or to say that something is ‘not as pure as the driven snow’.

The saying ‘pure as snow’ can also be used to imply the same meaning with a shorter phrase.

Other, similar phrases exist in the English language, including to say that something is as ‘white as bone‘ or that someone is ‘white as a sheet’ to often imply that they are shocked or astonished.

Example Usage

“You’ll pay much more for the coke uptown. Say what you want about what it’s going to cost for a shipment of this, but this stuff is as pure as the driven snow.”

“Her heart was as pure as the driven snow, though this was not what the prince was after in a woman.”

“What do you mean that’s not pure gold in the necklace? This was sold to me pure as the driven snow when I bought the damn thing about twenty years ago.”

“You’re as pure as the driven snow, you know that? I don’t think you’d do anything evil for just about all the money in the world. But what would you do for the Bitcoin?”

Origin

According to online language resources, the origin of the phrase ‘as pure as the driven snow’ is one of many phrases that is credited in its origin to the plays of William Shakespeare.

The phrase ‘white as driven snow’ appears in more than one of his works, though first in The Winter’s Tale – and with the spread and further translation of Shakespeare’s work, the saying is likely to have entered into common speech.

Both ‘white as the driven snow’ and ‘pure as the driven snow’ are accepted uses of the term, which have continued in use until modern times.

It is most likely that other writers took the phrase from the work of William Shakespeare, and that the term later became an accepted part of language (and a common saying) due to its popularity.

The website urban Dictionary first records the phrase from January 2008.

Phrases Similar to Pure As the Driven Snow

  • White as snow
  • White as bone

Phrases Opposite to Pure As the Driven Snow

  • Black as sin
  • Black as tar

What is the Correct Saying?

  • As pure as the driven snow
  • Pure as the driven snow

Ways People May Say Pure As the Driven Snow Incorrectly

There are several ways in which someone might use the phrase ‘pure as the driven snow’ in the wrong way, or misunderstand the meaning of the phrase.

As the phrase is most common in English, it might not translate well as a direct saying into other languages where there are other expressions with an equivalent meaning.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Pure As the Driven Snow

There are several ways in which someone might use the phrase ‘pure as the driven snow’ in conversation or text.

‘As pure as the driven snow’ or just ‘pure as snow’ are both acceptable uses of the term.

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