Paul's Blog

Winter Idioms, saying and phrases. Expand your English this Winter!

The weather has been weird the last few weeks here in Chicago, but make no mistake, we are STILL in the cold grip of winter for the next several months.

So, we thought it would be nice to give you something to cozy up to this weekend while you also expand your English vocabulary and comprehension skills. Continually working on vocabulary is a great way to improve your English.

Here we will share with you some saying, phrases and idioms commonly used in English that have to do with winter.

As most of you know, an idiom is a special type of saying. It is defined as a, “a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words.” For example, “it’s raining cats and dogs” doesn’t mean it is literally raining cats and dogs.

A saying is an expression that is memorable. They generally contain wisdom or advice. They are some times maxims, axioms, and proverbs. While a phrase, doesn’t have to be an entire sentence and is some times called an expression. Phrases are generally groups of words that have a specific meaning when you say them together. For example, “big deal,” means something important.

Idioms, sayings and phrases are extremely common in English, so we’ve put together some of the most common ones related to winter and winter weather!


Cold snap - a sudden, brief spell of cold weather.

Break into a cold sweat - to become frightened or anxious and begin to sweat.

Baby it’s cold outside - Comes from the popular Christmas song by the same name. The word, “baby” is a term of endearment.

Bundle up - to wrap oneself up in protective clothing or bedding as protection against the cold

Give someone the cold shoulder - Deliberate coldness or disregard, a slight or snub.

Go cold turkey - to suddenly and completely stop doing something, esp. a bad habit 

Jack Frost nipping at your nose - Comes from the classic Nat King Cole Christmas song (link to youtube) which alludes to, “Jack Frost,” who is the fictional personification of winter, some times called Old Man Winter, as well. So, when Jack Frost is, “nipping at your nose,” you are feeling the bitter cold of winter on your face.

Blanket of snow - A blanket is a thick covering you use to keep warm in bed, but when snow falls and sticks to the ground, it looks like it is ‘blanketing’ the earth. Thus, after a fresh snow fall it appears as if the earth is covered in a blanket of snow.

In cold blood - without feeling; with cruel intent. (Frequently said of a crime, especially murder.) 

Dead of winter - in the middle of winter, when it is very cold and dark

Left out in the cold - To be ignored, forgotten, or excluded, as from a group, activity, benefit, etc.

Out cold - to be unconscious, intoxicated, or sound asleep.

When hell freezes over - Never; at no time

Freeze one’s blood - Cause one to shiver from fright or horror.

Freeze someone out - to lock someone out socially.

Freeze up - Fig. [for someone] to become frightened and anxious, and be unable to move, speak, or continue with something.

Tip of the iceberg - only the part of something that can be easily observed, but not the rest of it, which is hidden.

Walking on thin ice - in a risky situation.

Break the ice - to initiate social interchanges and conversation; to get something started.

Put something on ice - to postpone acting on someone or something.

Pure as the driven snow - pure and chaste.

Snowball effect - a situation in which something increases in size or importance at a faster and faster rate.

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