14 Useful Ice Idioms In English You Should Know

Are you ready to slide into the cool and crisp world of “Ice Idioms”? From “breaking the ice” at a party to someone having “ice in their veins,” these frosty expressions pepper our conversations more than snowflakes on a wintry day. Whether you’re looking to add some sparkle to your chit-chat or simply curious about the origins of these chilly sayings, you’re in for a fun ride. So, grab your linguistic mittens, and let’s go skating through the icy realm of “Ice Idioms.”

What are Ice Idioms?

When we speak or write in English, we often use expressions called idioms which convey meanings beyond the literal interpretation of their words. Ice idioms are a specific subset of these phrases that use terms related to ice or cold to express ideas that aren’t directly linked to the actual coldness or presence of ice. They’re like secret codes in our language that, once understood, can add flavor and color to our conversations.

Let’s take a look at some common ice idioms:

  • Break the ice: To initiate conversation in an awkward or tense situation.
  • The tip of the iceberg: A small, visible part of a much larger issue.
  • Skating on thin ice: Behaving in a risky way.
  • Put (something) on ice: To postpone a plan or idea.

14 Useful Ice Idioms In English You Should Know

Ice Idioms with Meaning and Example

Idioms Meanings and Example Sentences
On ice To put something on hold.

Example: “The project is on ice until we get the funding sorted out.”

Cut no ice To have no influence or effect.

Example: “His excuses cut no ice with the jury.”

Tip of the iceberg A small, visible part of a much larger problem or complex issue.

Example: “The data errors we found are just the tip of the iceberg.”

Ice in one’s veins To remain calm in stressful situations.

Example: “She has ice in her veins; she never cracks under pressure.”

Walk on thin ice To be in a risky situation.

Example: “He’s walking on thin ice with his constant tardiness at work.”

Ice queen A woman who is perceived as emotionally cold or unresponsive.

Example: “She was nicknamed the ice queen because of her aloof demeanor.”

Cold as ice Extremely cold; lacking warmth or emotion.

Example: “His handshake was as cold as ice.”

To ice the cake To add something extra to an already good situation or thing.

Example: “Winning the award was great, but the bonus iced the cake.”

To have ice water in one’s veins To be very calm or composed, especially in stressful situations.

Example: “He must have ice water in his veins to handle such intense negotiations.”

To freeze someone out To deliberately exclude or shut someone out.

Example: “After the argument, she decided to freeze him out of her social circle.”

Icy stare A look that is very cold or hostile.

Example: “When he interrupted her, she gave him an icy stare.”

Popular Ice Idioms

Break the ice

This idiom refers to the act of initiating conversation in a social setting, making people feel more comfortable and relaxed, especially when they do not know each other well.

  • In Social Gatherings: When someone tells a joke or starts a conversation to make new acquaintances feel more at ease.

Example: “He told a funny anecdote to break the ice at the start of the party.”

  • In Business Meetings: An icebreaker activity is used to warm up the room before getting down to a more serious discussion.

Example: “The team leader organized a quick game to break the ice before the workshop.”

  • In Networking Events: When approaching someone for the first time to establish a connection.

Example: “Asking about her recent travels was a good way to break the ice and start a conversation.”

Put something on ice

This idiom means to delay or suspend an activity, plan, or idea, often to revisit it later.

  • In Projects: When a project is postponed indefinitely due to various factors.

Example: “Due to budget cuts, the expansion plans have been put on ice for now.”

  • In Relationships: When deciding to take a break or pause a relationship to consider its future.

Example: “They’ve decided to put their engagement on ice until they resolve their differences.”

  • In Negotiations: When talks or negotiations are halted to reassess the situation or strategy.

Example: “The contract negotiations have been put on ice until both parties can agree on the terms.”

Skating on thin ice

This idiom is used to describe a situation where someone is taking a risk by doing something that might cause trouble or offend people, often because they are nearing a limit or boundary of acceptable behavior.

  • In Work Environments: When an employee is close to getting in trouble due to their actions or attitude.

Example: “By arguing with the boss again, he’s skating on thin ice.”

  • In Personal Relationships: When someone’s behavior is testing the patience or tolerance of another person.

Example: “She’s skating on thin ice with her constant lateness; her partner’s frustration is growing.”

  • In Diplomatic Affairs: When a diplomat or country pushes the limits of an agreement or relationship.

Example: “The ambassador is skating on thin ice by ignoring the host country’s customs and protocols.”


An icebreaker is a game, activity, joke, or topic of conversation used to make people feel more comfortable and promote social interaction, similar to “break the ice.”

  • In Team Building: When a facilitator uses a fun activity to help new team members get to know each other.

Example: “The manager started the offsite with an icebreaker to get everyone talking.”

  • In Workshops or Seminars: When the speaker introduces a light-hearted activity to engage the audience.

Example: “The presenter used a quick icebreaker to warm up the crowd before delving into the serious topics.”

  • In Education: When a teacher uses a game to create a friendly classroom environment on the first day of school.

Example: “The teacher organized an icebreaker so the students could introduce themselves.”

To ice the cake (or to ice the win)

This idiom is often used to describe an action that finalizes or secures success or victory, similar to putting the icing on a cake as the final touch.

  • In Sports: When a player or team makes a decisive play that ensures victory.

Example: “The last-minute touchdown iced the cake for the home team’s win.”

  • In Business Deals: When a final agreement or action clinches a deal.

Example: “Signing the contract iced the cake on months of tough negotiations.”

Related Idiom List: