10 “Cold” English Idioms

 

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#1 – stop/quit (something) cold turkey

This expression means to stop doing something suddenly and completely (instead of gradually decreasing it over time). We most often use this expression for quitting smoking, although it can also be used for other bad/addictive habits like drinking alcohol, gambling, and video games.

Last March I quit smoking cold turkey and I haven’t had a cigarette since.

#2 – your blood runs cold

If your blood runs cold, it means you suddenly experience a strong feeling of fear, panic, or horror.

My blood ran cold when I heard that there had been several murders in the park where I often go on the weekends.

#3 – stop cold

To “stop cold” means to stop movement suddenly and completely.

We were walking in the forest and we stopped cold when we saw a snake in the path.

#4 – give someone the cold shoulder

This idiom means to treat someone in an unfriendly way and/or ignoring them, usually on purpose because you don’t like the person or because they have done something to make you dislike them.

After Bill made an offensive joke at work, his colleagues have all been giving him the cold shoulder.

#5 – out cold

If someone is “out cold,” it means the person is deeply sleeping or unconscious. This can be used for both natural sleep and for when someone faints (loses consciousness) or is knocked out (loses consciousness because of an impact to the head).

My son was out cold in the car; he didn’t even wake up when I carried him to his bed.

#6 – get cold feet

If you “get cold feet,” it means you get nervous/afraid about something you had planned to do, and you start questioning if you actually want to do it or not. Sometimes people who get cold feet actually cancel, and sometimes they overcome their nervousness and go ahead with the planned action.

I’d like to go skydiving, but I know I’d get cold feet in that moment right before jumping out of the plane.

#7 – cold call

This idiom is mostly used in business and networking – a “cold call” is a telephone call to someone whom you have never met. This expression can be used as either a noun or a verb.

The sales team makes cold calls to prospective customers and tries to convince them to buy the product.

#8 – cold comfort

If something is “cold comfort,” it means it was supposed to make you feel better about a situation, but it did not make you feel better.

Getting the $1 million life insurance benefit was cold comfort after her husband died.

#9 – a cold one

This is a slang expression meaning a cold beer.

After a hard day’s work I just like to relax on the couch with a cold one.

#10 – pour/throw cold water on something

This idiom refers to an action that discourages something, or reduces excitement for it.

The boss threw cold water on our proposal by saying we didn’t have the budget to implement it.

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