Being called a “snowflake” will cause damage to their mental health, say youngsters. A new research by insurance firm Aviva found that among 16-24 year-olds in the U.K., 72 percent felt the term was unfairly applied, while 74 per cent thought it could have a negative effect on young people's mental health, the Telegraph reported.

The slang term is often used to refer to people, mostly youngsters or millennials, who are thought to take offense very easily and are perceived to be highly sensitive and intolerant of disagreement. 

Also, almost half of adults between 16 and 24 said they experienced anxiety or stress at some point, compared to a just over a third of all adults. According to the study, young adults were more likely to be uncomfortable talking about a mental health problem, with one in three saying this, compared to 27 per cent of all adults. Also, compared to seven percent of all adults, 13 percent said they were experiencing a problem but had not sought help.

Aviva’s medical expert, Dr. Doug Wright said the term could become a cause for these problems. “Our findings suggest that young adults are more likely to be experiencing mental health problems, so using a phrase which criticizes this age group could add to this issue,” he said.

"Any term used disparagingly to a segment of the population is inherently negative. While young adults in particular appear to take offence to the ‘snowflake’ label, the majority of adults agree that the term is unfair and unhelpful, so it’s important that people consider how such labels are used, and the cumulative effect they could have on their recipients," Wright added. 

Many believe that the usage of the term “snowflake” as an insult originated in Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel “Fight Club” and its 1999 movie adaptation. In the book, a member of the anti-consumerist organization, Project Mayhem, tells the other members: "You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone, and we are all part of the same compost pile."

The dialogue in the film adaptation goes: “Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not the beautiful or unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world. We are all part of the same compost heap."

However, Merriam Webster dictionary states the usage of the word as a slang did not begin with the book or the movie.

According to the dictionary, it was used as a derogatory term in 1970s for a white man or for a black man who was seen as acting white. It was also used as a slang term for cocaine. But before either of those it was used for a time with a very particular political meaning. In the 1860s, a "snowflake" was a person who was opposed to the abolition of slavery, implying that they valued white people over black people.