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10 English Winter Idioms

Well, here we are in mid-January—and if you’re in the northern hemisphere, that means it’s winter! 

Whether you’re surrounded by lots of snow or just some extra rain, everything is feeling a little extra chilly these days.

With cold weather on the brain, we thought it would be a great time to talk about our 10 favourite winter-inspired English idioms. 

Take a look!

10 Winter Idioms in English

1. To break the ice 

→ To say or do something to make people who don’t know each other feel more relaxed

When I meet someone new, I always like to tell a joke to break the ice. It works every time!

2. To chill out 

→ To relax

I’ve had a hard work week. I just want to chill out at home this weekend. 

3. To get/have cold feet 

→ To be nervous about doing something

They were supposed to get married tomorrow, but they got cold feet and cancelled the wedding.

4. To give (someone) the cold shoulder

→ To purposely ignore someone or be unfriendly toward them

My sister thought our neighbour liked her, but when she tried to talk to him, he gave her the cold shoulder. 

5. Cold turkey

→ Completely and suddenly (often used with “quit”)

When she wanted to stop smoking, she tried to quit cold turkey. It didn’t work, though. She started again a month later.

6. To freeze (someone) out

→ To be unfriendly and exclude someone from being part of a group or an activity

I feel like my co-workers are freezing me out. They keep having secret meetings without me. 

7. To freeze up

→ To become so scared or nervous that you can’t speak or move

I wish I were a better public speaker. I freeze up every time I have to make a presentation at work.

8. On thin ice

→ In a risky situation in which you could get into trouble or make someone upset (often used with “walking” or “skating”)

You’d better not come home late tonight! You’ve been late three times this week—you’re on thin ice!

9. The tip of the iceberg

→ A small but noticeable part of a much bigger situation or problem

Remember the problem I told you I’m having with my roommate? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot more issues I haven’t told you about.

10. When hell freezes over

→ An impolite way of saying that something will never happen

You want me to let you use my brand new car? Sure, when hell freezes over!

Add some cool idioms to your vocabulary

Next time you’re chilling out at home trying to stay warm this winter, why not take some time to memorize these English winter idioms? And when you’ve mastered these ones, there are plenty more English idioms to learn—this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Andrea is a Gabby Academy coach and education technolgy writer based in Vancouver, Canada.