As Cold as Ice: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 3, 2023

The idiom "as cold as ice" is often used to describe something or someone that is extremely cold or lacking in emotion. In other words, it indicates extreme coldness, either literally or figuratively.

In short:

"As cold as ice" is used to describe something extremely cold in temperature or someone who is unemotional or indifferent.

What Does "As Cold as Ice" Mean?

"As cold as ice" is an idiomatic expression that can convey either a literal or figurative sense of extreme coldness. When used literally, it describes an object or environment that is extremely cold to the touch, much like ice. Figuratively, it refers to a person who displays a lack of emotion, warmth, or compassion.

Here's a breakdown of its meanings:

  • Describing the cold temperature of an object or environment.
  • Characterizing a person as emotionally distant or unresponsive.

Where Does "As Cold as Ice" Come From?

The phrase "as cold as ice" is a simile that likely developed as a natural way to describe extreme coldness by comparing it to ice. It is a relatively straightforward expression and has been a part of the English language for centuries. The use of the word "as" is a common construction in similes, which are phrases that use comparison to describe characteristics.

Historical Example

"It is true, she wrote twice to me since her departure, but in so cold a style, that it is plainly seen her heart is as cold as ice to me."

- Letters Written by a Turkish Spy, 1801

10 Examples of "As Cold as Ice" in Sentences

Here are some examples of the idiom in use:

  • He tends to become as cold as ice in a fix, making it hard to communicate.
  • You might think that I'm as cold as ice, but I'm just a call away if you need me.
  • Despite her pleas, he remained as cold as ice and did not change his decision.
  • The water in the lake was as cold as ice, so we didn’t stay in for long.
  • My bad; I didn't mean to come across as cold as ice in that conversation.
  • The room was as cold as ice because the heater had broken.
  • His reaction was as cold as ice, making her realize he didn't care anymore.
  • That sucks! His attitude became as cold as ice after the incident.
  • She no longer needs those happy pills, as she's learned to handle bad situations as cold as ice.
  • Her voice was as cold as ice when she told him to leave.

Examples of "As Cold as Ice" in Pop Culture

The phrase "as cold as ice" frequently appears in pop culture, typically to describe a character’s emotionless state or cold demeanor.

Let’s explore some instances:

  • "Cold as Ice" is a song by British-American rock band Foreigner from their eponymous debut album released in 1977. The song uses the phrase to describe a lover's cold and uncaring attitude.
  • Momma Renn’s Kitchen: Hands As Cold As Ice, But the Pastries…” is a 2019 recipe book by Jennifer Tucker.
  • The 2006 novel "Cold as Ice" is the second book in the Ice series by bestselling author Anne Stuart.

Other/Different Ways to Say "As Cold as Ice"

There are several alternative expressions that convey a similar meaning to "as cold as ice."

Here are some of them:

  • Ice-cold
  • Freezing
  • Frigid
  • Cold-hearted
  • Unfeeling

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "As Cold as Ice":

  • What does "as cold as ice" mean?

"As cold as ice" can refer to something extremely cold in temperature or to someone who shows no emotion or warmth.

  • How can I use "as cold as ice" in a sentence?

You can use "as cold as ice" to describe the cold temperature of something or someone's lack of emotion, such as "The water was as cold as ice" or "He was as cold as ice when he heard the news."

  • Where does the idiom "as cold as ice" come from?

The phrase "as cold as ice" is a simile that has been used in the English language for centuries. It's a natural way to describe extreme coldness.

  • Can "as cold as ice" refer to emotions?

Yes, when referring to a person, "as cold as ice" can mean that the individual is emotionally distant or unresponsive.

  • Is "as cold as ice" always negative when describing a person?

Usually, yes. When used to describe a person, it often indicates that they are emotionally cold, indifferent, or unfeeling, which are generally perceived as negative traits.

  • Can "as cold as ice" be used in a positive way?

When used to describe a person, it typically carries a negative connotation. However, when used to describe an object or environment, it is neutral and simply describes temperature.

  • Can I use "as cold as ice" in formal writing?

Yes, "as cold as ice" is a common idiom and can be used in a variety of contexts, including formal writing, as long as it fits the tone and style of your text.

  • Can "as cold as ice" be used to describe anything other than temperature or human emotions?

Typically, "as cold as ice" is used to describe extremely cold temperatures or people's emotions. However, like many idioms, it can be

used metaphorically to describe other things that are lacking warmth or liveliness.

  • Does "as cold as ice" have a different meaning in different cultures?

The phrase "as cold as ice" is commonly used in English-speaking cultures and its meaning remains relatively consistent. However, interpretation can depend on the context and cultural nuances.

Final Thoughts About "As Cold as Ice"

The idiom "as cold as ice" is a versatile expression that can be used to describe anything from an object's frigid temperature to a person's unfeeling nature. While the phrase carries a negative connotation when referring to people, it's neutral when describing objects or environments.

Here's a quick recap:

  • The idiom can denote extreme coldness, lack of emotion, or warmth in individuals.
  • It's widely used in both informal and formal English.
  • Though often negative when describing people, the phrase can be neutral when applied to objects or conditions.

Whether you're describing the coldness of winter weather or the emotional temperament of a character in a story, "as cold as ice" is a useful phrase to have in your vocabulary. Its straightforward, vivid imagery makes it a powerful tool for enhancing your descriptions and enriching your language use.

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