27 Cold Idioms: Chilly Phrases You Should Learn

In everyday conversation, we often use phrases that paint pictures or evoke certain feelings, especially when the temperature drops. These expressions are known as idioms. Cold idioms, for example, are a fascinating set of phrases that draw on the chilliness of weather to convey more abstract ideas or emotions. Whether we’re talking about relationships, opportunities, or attitudes, we turn to these frosty expressions to add color to our language.

What are Cold Idioms?

In our language, we often use phrases known as idioms to express ideas in a figurative rather than literal way. Cold idioms are a collection of sayings that incorporate the concept of coldness to convey a variety of meanings. Let’s explore some common ones and their uses:

  • Catch a cold: To become ill with the common cold.
    Example: “I think I’ve caught a cold; I can’t stop sneezing.”
  • Cold snap: A short period of unusually cold weather.
    Example: “Pack your warmest jacket because a cold snap is expected this week.”
  • Left out in the cold: To be excluded from a group or activity.
    Example: “Not getting invited to the meeting, I felt left out in the cold.”

27 Cold Idioms: Chilly Phrases You Should Learn Pin

List of Cold Idioms in English

Idiom
Feeling Under the Weather Cold snap
Giving Someone the Cold Shoulder Cold turkey
Cold Feet Cold, hard cash
Break the Ice Cold comfort
Caught a cold Out in the cold
Cold as ice Cold-hearted
A cold day in July Blood runs cold
Cold as a witch’s tit Leave out in the cold
The cold light of day Cold fish
Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey Stone-cold sober
Throw cold water on Get cold feet
In cold blood Cold as the grave
Cold cut

Cold Idioms with Meaning and Example

Idioms Meanings with Example Sentences
Cold as ice Lacking warmth or feeling; unemotional.

Example: Her response to his apology was as cold as ice.

Cold snap A sudden, brief period of cold weather.

Example: cold snap hit the town, and the lakes froze over.

Cold turkey To abruptly stop a habit or addiction without tapering off.

Example: He quit smoking cold turkey.

Cold, hard cash Money in the form of bills and coins, as opposed to checks or credit.

Example: The seller wanted cold, hard cash for the car.

Cold comfort Minimal or inadequate comfort; something that is not very comforting at all.

Example: Knowing he wasn’t the only one who failed was a cold comfort to him.

Out in the cold Excluded from benefits or activities.

Example: When the new CEO took over, many old employees were left out in the cold.

Cold-hearted Lacking empathy or warmth; unfeeling.

Example: The way she dismissed his feelings was truly cold-hearted.

A cold day in July A time or event that is very unlikely to happen.

Example: You getting up before sunrise is like a cold day in July.

Blood runs cold To be very frightened or horrified.

Example: When she heard the footsteps behind her, her blood ran cold.

Cold as a witch’s tit Extremely cold.

Example: The wind by the ocean was as cold as a witch’s tit.

Leave out in the cold To exclude someone from a group or an activity.

Example: When they didn’t invite her to the meeting, they left her out in the cold.

Cold light of day The harsh truth of reality.

Example: His decision didn’t seem as wise in the cold light of day.

Cold fish A person who is distant and unemotional.

Example: He’s such a cold fish that he didn’t even congratulate her.

Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey Extremely cold weather.

Example: It’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey out there!

Stone-cold sober Completely sober; not intoxicated at all.

Example: Even though he’d been at the bar for hours, he was stone-cold sober when he left.

Popular Cold Idioms

Feeling Under the Weather

  • Meaning: This idiom means feeling ill or not well.
  • Usage in context: It’s used to describe a state of mild illness or discomfort, often when someone has symptoms like a cold or a mild headache.
  • Example: I won’t be coming to the office today; I’m feeling under the weather and need some rest.

Giving Someone the Cold Shoulder

  • Meaning: To give someone the cold shoulder means to deliberately ignore them or treat them in an unfriendly way.
  • Usage in context: This phrase is used when someone is being intentionally snubbed or excluded.
  • Example: Ever since the argument, whenever they cross paths, she has been giving him the cold shoulder.

Cold Feet

  • Meaning: Getting cold feet is an idiom used to describe a feeling of nervousness or fear that leads someone to hesitate or back out of a situation, often one that involves a commitment.
  • Usage in context: It’s commonly used in the context of weddings when a bride or groom is nervous about the ceremony, but it can apply to any situation involving second thoughts.
  • Example: Just before the performance, the lead actor got cold feet and almost didn’t go on stage.

Break the Ice

  • Meaning: To break the ice means to do or say something to relieve tension or get a conversation going with a group of people who have not met before.
  • Usage in context: This idiom is used when someone wants to create a more relaxed and friendly atmosphere among strangers or acquaintances.
  • Example: At the start of the team-building event, the host told a funny anecdote to break the ice.

Caught a Cold

  • Meaning: This phrase means to have become ill with a cold, a common viral infection that affects the nose, throat, and sinuses.
  • Usage in context: It’s used when someone has symptoms like sneezing, a runny nose, or a sore throat.
  • Example: I’m afraid I won’t be able to join the hiking trip this weekend; I’ve caught a cold and I’m feeling quite miserable.

Using Cold Idioms in Communication

We’ll explore how idioms related to the word “cold” can be effectively used in different contexts of communication to express specific ideas or feelings.

In Formal Writing

In formal writing, we use cold idioms sparingly and with consideration for the audience’s familiarity with the English language. Idioms like “cold calling” refer to unsolicited contact, often in a business context, while “cold feet” might be used to describe hesitation or a loss of nerve. It’s essential to ensure that the use of any idioms enhances clarity rather than detracts from it.

  • “Cold calling”: Contacting potential clients or leads without prior introduction.
  • “Cold feet”: Experiencing a sudden nervousness or hesitation before a significant event.

In Everyday Conversations

Cold idioms are much more prevalent in our informal interactions, often used to inject personality and color into our language. For instance, when someone has “caught a cold,” it simply means they’ve become ill with the common cold. If a friend “gives you the cold shoulder,” they are purposely ignoring you or showing indifference. These expressions enliven our speech and help convey our messages with relatable imagery.

  • Caught a cold: Becoming ill with the symptoms of a common cold.
  • Give the cold shoulder: To intentionally ignore or show indifference to someone.

In Business Communications

Clear and professional language is key in business, but an occasional idiom can add color to otherwise dry content. Idioms such as “cold hard cash” emphasize the tangibility and immediacy of physical currency in transactions, while “a cold day in July” is used to describe a highly unlikely event or situation.

  • Cold hard cash“: Refers to money in hand, as opposed to credit or any form of deferred payment.
  • A cold day in July“: An expression used to signify something very unlikely to happen, often used to express skepticism.

In Academic Discussions

Academic discourse often requires precise language, yet idioms can occasionally be used to succinctly convey complex ideas. “Out in the cold” can describe exclusion from a group or conversation, pertinent in discussions of social dynamics or political processes, while “cold turkey” might be used in the context of abrupt cessation, often in discussions related to addiction or behavioral change.

  • Out in the cold“: Being excluded from participation or consideration.
  • Cold turkey“: Stopping an addictive or harmful habit suddenly and completely.

In Diplomatic Language

Diplomacy relies on careful wording and sometimes idioms can be employed to soften the delivery of a message or to convey concepts in a more relatable way. “Pouring cold water on” can describe the act of discouraging or dampening enthusiasm for an idea, while “cold comfort” refers to minimal consolation in a disappointing situation.

  • Pouring cold water on“: Discouraging an idea or proposal with a dose of harsh realism.
  • Cold comfort“: Small or insignificant consolation that does little to improve the situation.

Related Idiom List: