Chill out with these winter idioms and phrases

Winter idiomsHere in the Northern Hemisphere, winter is well underway – we’re not exactly snowed in in the UK, but we are expecting a few flakes tonight!

So, seeing as we Brits like to discuss the weather as we go about our daily lives, I’ve put together a collection of winter idioms to continue my series. As with most idioms, however, hardly any of these phrases have anything to do with winter at all!

In case you’re not sure what an idiom is, it’s an expression used to mean something other than the literal meaning of the words. A classic example is Raining cats and dogs.

If you’re interested in word origins, you can click through on some of these winter idioms for a bit of background information.

Escape from the cold

Break into a cold sweat = suddenly become very scared about something

Cold comfort = poor or inadequate consolation

Give someone the cold shoulder = be intentionally unfriendly to someone

Go cold turkey = come off drugs abruptly rather than gradually

Have (or get) cold feet = suffer loss of nerve or confidence

In cold blood = without feeling or mercy

In the cold light of daythink about something clearly, without emotions

Left out in the cold = excluded or ignored

Out cold = completely unconscious

Pour/throw cold water onbe discouraging or negative

Run hot and cold = be unable to make up one’s mind

The big freeze

A freeze on (doing something) = a temporary stop to something

Freeze one’s blood = fill one with feelings of fear or horror

Freeze someone out = isolate someone socially

Freeze someone’s wages = keep someone’s pay at its current level

Freeze upbecome anxious and unable to move or speak

Ice, ice, baby

Break the ice = help others feel at ease in a social situation by making conversation

Put something on ice = hold in reserve for future consideration

Skate/walk/be on thin ice = in a risky or dangerous situation

Tip of the iceberg = small perceptible part of a much larger (hidden) problem

Snow is falling

A snowball’s chance in hell = very unlikely to succeed at something

Pure as the driven snow = completely pure and innocent

Snowball effect = when something small keeps growing in importance

Snowed under = overwhelmed with work or responsibilities

Other winter idioms

Add fuel to the fire = cause a bad situation to become worse

As snug as a bug (in a rug) = very cosy and comfortable

Brass monkey weather (also known by a ruder version) = extremely cold

Over to you

Out of all these, my personal favourite is As snug as a bug because it conjures up such a cute image!

How about you? Which of these winter idioms make you feel warm and fuzzy inside? Or have I missed out any sayings that you think should be included here?

(image “Matanuska Glacier” courtesy of CNaene via

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10 comments on “Chill out with these winter idioms and phrases
  1. Jordan says:

    Do you have the meaning of the idiom ‘Winter over’ because, my mom, my dad, and I all don’t understand it, so please, can you help us? That would be very appreciated.

    • Sorry, only just spotted this!

      It has two meanings: 1) to spend, endure or survive a winter, e.g. My cactus has wintered over for the last three years, 2) to spend the winter at some place, e.g. My parents winter over in Florida.

      Hope that helps 🙂

  2. Zach says:

    thank you for school answers

  3. Pratibha says:

    difficult to say which one I love better. all of them are amazing. i was googling meaning of some word accidentally I came across your idioms . In future how I can come to your idiom site. please send me email at tech_pratap@

    • It’s great to hear when people randomly stumble across my website! It’s not an ‘idiom site’ as such – as a copywriter, I’m fascinated by the English language, so I’ve written quite a few blog posts about idioms as well as other aspects of the language & freelancing in general. Hopefully you’ll find more posts of interest on here

  4. sonia says:

    Thank you for your beautifully written idioms – keep them coming.

    • Thanks so much Sonia. It’s lovely to hear that my efforts are appreciated! Next in the idioms series will be love-related ones to tie in with Valentine’s Day, so watch out for that one in your Inbox…

  5. Geraldine says:

    Many thanks for taking the time to comment. Really glad you enjoyed the post – I enjoy collating the idioms for this series as I always learn something new!

  6. Tania Grechanyk says:

    An idiom a day keeps all worries away. Thanks to your gorgeous bunch of idioms I will be chilled out the whole winter 🙂

    Cannot even say which one I love better, maybe “give someone the cold shoulder” 🙂 All of them are just amazing.

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