Winter Idioms

Winter is a season that brings about many changes in nature, and it also has a significant impact on the way we communicate. In English, there are numerous idioms and expressions related to winter that are commonly used in everyday conversations. These winter idioms not only add color and variety to our language but also reflect the cultural and social aspects of the season.

What Are Winter Idioms?

Winter idioms are expressions that use winter-related imagery or concepts to convey ideas or feelings that may not necessarily be about the literal season of winter. These idioms often use the characteristics of winter, such as cold weather, snow, and shorter days, to metaphorically describe situations, emotions, or actions.

20 Useful Winter Idioms In English You Should Know

Here are some common winter idioms and their meanings:

  • Put something on ice – To postpone or delay something.
  • Cold shoulder – To deliberately ignore someone or treat someone in an unfriendly way.
  • Snowed under – Overwhelmed with work or responsibilities.
  • Ice queen – A woman who is beautiful but distant, unemotional, or unfriendly.
  • Chill to the bone – Extremely cold, either physically or metaphorically (as in a chilling story).
  • Give someone the cold shoulder – To intentionally ignore someone or exclude them from social interaction.

Winter Idioms

Idioms Meaning and Example
Snowed under Overwhelmed with work or responsibilities.

Example: “I’m completely snowed under with all these holiday preparations.”

Get cold feet To become nervous or hesitant.

Example: “She got cold feet about going ice skating at the last minute.”

Give someone the cold shoulder To ignore someone.

Example: “He gave me the cold shoulder after I beat him in the snowball fight.”

Cold snap A sudden, brief period of cold weather.

Example: “We had a cold snap that froze all the ponds overnight.”

Chill to the bone Extremely cold.

Example: “I was chilled to the bone after playing outside in the snow.”

To be snowed in Unable to leave a place due to heavy snowfall.

Example: “We were snowed in for two days during the blizzard.”

A flurry of activity A lot of things happening quickly.

Example: “There was a flurry of activity as everyone prepared for the winter festival.”

Icebreaker An activity or event used to welcome and warm up the conversation among participants.

Example: “The team building game was a great icebreaker for the new recruits.”

Blanket of snow A complete covering of snow.

Example: “The park was covered with a blanket of snow.”

Freeze out To intentionally exclude someone from a group or activity.

Example: “They tried to freeze me out of the snow fort games.”

When hell freezes over Something that will never happen.

Example: “He said he’d clean his room when hell freezes over.”

Walk on thin ice To be in a risky or delicate situation.

Example: “You’re walking on thin ice by not wearing your coat in this weather.”

Frosty reception A cold or unfriendly welcome.

Example: “He received a frosty reception when he arrived late to the meeting.”

To be left out in the cold To be excluded from a group or activity.

Example: “She felt left out in the cold when she wasn’t invited to the ice-skating party.”

Winter of discontent A period of unhappiness or dissatisfaction.

Example: “The constant blizzards made it a winter of discontent for the townspeople.”

Throw ice water on To discourage an idea or enthusiasm.

Example: “His dad threw ice water on his plans to go snowboarding in the storm.”

Catching one’s death (of cold) To become very cold, risking illness.

Example: “Don’t go out with wet hair; you’ll catch your death of cold!”

Snowball effect A situation that grows in significance or size with each event.

Example: “The snowball effect of the rumor caused chaos in the school.”

To weather the storm To survive through a difficult period.

Example: “We need to weather the storm until spring arrives.”

To come in from the cold To be welcomed into a warm, safe environment.

Example: “After years of traveling, he finally came in from the cold and found a place to call home.”

Whiteout conditions Severe weather conditions with low visibility due to snow.

Example: “The blizzard caused whiteout conditions, and all flights were canceled.”

Common Winter Idioms

Break the Ice

Breaking the ice is a common winter idiom used to describe the act of overcoming initial awkwardness or tension in social situations. This idiom is often used when meeting new people or starting a conversation with someone we don’t know very well.


The phrase “break the ice” means to initiate or start a conversation or social interaction in order to make people feel more comfortable and relaxed.


We use this idiom when we want to describe a situation where we are trying to ease the tension or awkwardness in a social situation. For example, when we meet someone for the first time or when we are in a group of people we don’t know very well.


  • “I was nervous about meeting my new coworkers, but I decided to break the ice by asking them about their hobbies.”
  • “We were all feeling a bit awkward at the party, so I suggested we play a game to break the ice.”
  • “When I met my girlfriend’s parents for the first time, I tried to break the ice by complimenting their home and asking about their family history.”

Put Something on Ice


The phrase “put something on ice” means to delay or postpone something. It can also mean to temporarily stop doing something or to wait for a better time to do it.


We use this idiom when we want to express that we need more time to think about something or when we want to wait for a better opportunity. For example, if someone asks us to make a decision about something, but we’re not sure what to do, we might say “let’s put it on ice for now and come back to it later.”


  • “I’m not ready to make a decision yet, so let’s put it on ice for a few days.”
  • “We were planning to launch the new product next month, but we decided to put it on ice until we can get more funding.”
  • “I’m feeling overwhelmed right now, so I’m going to put my project on ice for a while and come back to it when I’m feeling more motivated.”

Snowball Effect


The snowball effect refers to a situation where something starts off small but then grows bigger and bigger, often with the help of momentum or compounding effects.


We often use the snowball effect to describe a situation where something starts off small but then grows bigger and bigger over time. It can be used in both positive and negative contexts.


  • “Once we started saving money, it had a snowball effect and we were able to pay off all of our debts.”
  • “The negative comments on social media had a snowball effect and soon everyone was talking about it.”
  • “The success of our first product had a snowball effect and now we have a whole line of products.”

A Snowball’s Chance in Hell


The phrase “a snowball’s chance in hell” is a metaphor that refers to the idea that a snowball would melt in the fiery depths of hell, meaning that it has no chance of surviving. When we use this phrase, we are saying that something is so unlikely to happen that it might as well be impossible.


We use “a snowball’s chance in hell” to express our skepticism or disbelief about a particular situation. It can be used in a variety of contexts, such as when someone is trying to accomplish something that seems impossible or when we are talking about a situation that is very unlikely to happen.


  • “I have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the lottery, but I still buy a ticket every week.”
  • “There’s a snowball’s chance in hell that we’ll finish this project on time.”
  • “He thinks he can convince the boss to give him a raise, but he has a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding.”

Dead of Winter


The phrase “dead of winter” refers to the coldest and darkest part of the winter season. Despite its negative connotations, the “dead of winter” can also be a time of quiet reflection and introspection. The stillness and solitude of the season can provide a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.


We use this idiom to describe the harsh and unforgiving conditions of winter, particularly during its coldest and darkest months.


  • “We had to drive through the dead of winter to get to our cabin in the mountains.”
  • “The town was quiet and still in the dead of winter, with most people staying indoors to avoid the cold.”
  • “Despite the company’s financial struggles, they managed to launch a successful product in the dead of winter, sparking a remarkable turnaround by year’s end.”

Throwing Snowballs at Stonewalls


The phrase “throwing snowballs at stonewalls” means to attempt to accomplish something that is ultimately impossible or pointless. It refers to the act of throwing snowballs at a wall made of stone, which will not have any effect on the wall.


We can use this idiom when we want to express our frustration or disappointment in a situation where we are not making any progress. For example, we might say “I feel like I’m throwing snowballs at stonewalls” when we are trying to persuade someone who is not receptive to our ideas.


  • “We’ve been trying to convince our boss to implement a new system, but it feels like we’re just throwing snowballs at stonewalls.”
  • “I’ve been trying to learn how to play the piano, but my progress has been slow. Sometimes it feels like I’m just throwing snowballs at stonewalls.”
  • “We’ve been trying to get our neighbor to stop playing loud music at night, but it seems like we’re just throwing snowballs at stonewalls.”