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Chill Out with Wintery Idioms in English!

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Across the Northern Hemisphere, it’s starting to get pretty cool out there – and winter is definitely coming!

Of course, the weather’s not the only thing to cool down. You’ll also come across lots of winter related idioms, which are perfect for this time of year. Read on to find out some of the most popular ones, and what they mean.

Cold snap

A cold snap literally describes a sudden period of extremely cold weather, usually much more cold than it normally gets.

But you might also use this phrase to describe a bit of an unexpectedly negative period in a relationship, where someone may be feeling less friendly or approachable than they normally are. For example:

“After our argument last week, there’s been a bit of a cold snap between my mother and I, and she’s refusing to talk to me or answer my calls.”

When Hell freezes over

This colourful and metaphorical phrase describes a situation or time that is completely impossible, or unlikely to happen. So where does it come from? Hell is often described as a place filled with permanent fire, and it would never cool down or freeze. You use the image of Hell freezing to refer to something that you think will never happen.

For example:

“She’s such a terrible driver – she’ll only pass her test when Hell freezes over!”

Snowed under

Another metaphorical idiom, this one describes the feeling of having a huge amount of snow on top, which is difficult to shift and weighs you down from doing something. You use it to describe being overwhelmed with tasks or activities, such as with school or responsibilities at work.

For example:

“During her last semester, she was completely snowed under as she had to prepare for so many different exams.”

Put it on ice

Putting something on ice is a way of saying that you want to suspend or put something on hold for a while. The idiom comes from the act of putting food in, or on ice to stop it from spoiling.

For example:

“We were planning to go on a cruise this year, but we’ve put our plans on ice for now.”

On thin ice

Have you ever come across a frozen lake or river? If you have, you might know that the surface isn’t always as safe as it looks, as the ice can easily break!

This idiom describes the same kind of uncertainty – it means that it is a potentially risky situation.

For example:

“After his last outburst at work, he was on thin ice with the boss – and making a single mistake could have ended up costing him his job.”

Break the ice

While this one might sound similar to the previous idiom, it is actually very different in meaning! Breaking the ice – or an “ice breaker” is something that eases the awkwardness between strangers. It’s used to describe getting over the initial feeling of unfamiliarity when you talk to someone new.

For example:

“It was a bit strange at first, but talking about our shared music interests helped to break the ice between us and the new students in class.”

How might you use these winter-themed idioms? Do you have any others you’d like to share? Tell us what you think in the comments!