by Liz Walter
Last month I looked at phrases containing the word ‘hot’, and this month I am looking at the opposite: phrases containing the word ‘cold’. Whereas ‘hot’ phrases are mostly concerned either with very good things or with strong emotions, ‘cold’ phrases are usually negative. We often use them to describe fear, unfriendliness or lack of emotion.
For instance, if you give someone the cold shoulder, you ignore them or act in an unfriendly way towards them, even though you know them. We can also say that someone gets/is given the cold shoulder when this happens to them:
She gave me the cold shoulder when I tried to talk to her.
Max did his best to be friendly to Lucas, but he got the cold shoulder.
If we say that someone does something cruel, especially killing someone, in cold blood, we mean that they do it in a calm, cruel way and do not seem to feel any emotion. We often describe a particularly cruel act or the person that commits that act as cold-blooded:
Armed men burst into his house and shot him in cold blood.
Police describe the killing as a ‘cold-blooded murder’.
If someone is in a cold sweat, they are very scared or worried. We say that people break out in a cold sweat when they start to feel like this:
When Julian saw that the money was gone, he broke out in a cold sweat.
Cold-hearted thieves stole her son’s new bike.
His new girlfriend seems a bit of a cold fish.
If we describe something that should make a bad situation better as cold comfort, we meant that it does not make it better, or only makes it very slightly better:
It was cold comfort to discover that several other people had been tricked in the same way.
In a very visual idiom, if someone pours/throws cold water on an idea, plan or opinion, they say negative things about it and stop people being excited by it:
My teachers poured cold water on my ambition to become a footballer.
I will finish with a nice idiom that has both ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ in it. If you blow hot and cold about something or someone, you are sometimes positive about them and sometimes negative:
I’m not sure if she’s happy at university. She keeps blowing hot and cold about it.
Do you have similar ‘cold’ phrases in your first language? Let us know in the comments!