17 Cold Metaphors & Similes that Pop! (Meanings & Examples)

Some great cold metaphors include:

  • It’s a freezer out here.
  • It’s an igloo in here.
  • I was left out in the cold.

Some good cold similes are:

  • As cold as ice.
  • Cold as a dog’s nose.
  • Cold as a January night.

Read below for all of the metaphors and similes in this list.

Note: Some of these Metaphors can also be considered Cultural Idioms. Check here to see all 25 of my Idioms for Cold.

Cold Metaphors

1. It’s a Freezer out Here!

If you step out of your nice warm house and into the cold weather, you might remark: “I’ve just stepped into a freezer!”

It doesn’t mean you literally stepped into a freezer.

The freezer is a metaphor here for a super cold day.

To turn it into a simile, you might also say: “It’s like an industrial freezer out there today. Make sure you put your mittens on!”

Read Also: Cold Idioms

2. He’s a Frosty Old Snowman

If someone is ‘frosty’, it means that they are not actually as cold as frost. But as a partial metaphor, we’re saying they are something in order to achieve literary effect.

cold metaphors

This metaphor means that they are unkind, aloof or disinterested. In the English language, we will often use coldness to indicate lack of kindness (later, I will talk about ‘cold hearted’ people, which means a similar thing).

For example, if the customer support lady on the phone doesn’t care about your new computer won’t turn on, you can say to her: “You’re frosty. Don’t you care about my situation?”

Another person who you might consider to be frosty is a teacher who never smiles.

3. It’s an Igloo in Here

When you say it’s an igloo in here, you’re not saying you’re in an igloo. You’re simply creating an analogy between the temperature of ice and the temperature of the room.

In the above instance, you are talking about the temperature.

But a second time you might say a situation is icy is when it is awkward or tense. For example, if you’re in a room where two people are signing divorce papers, there’s a good chance there are a lot of silences and not much goodwill.

This second situation relates closely to the above point about people being “frosty”, again meaning terse or unkind.

4. I’m a Frozen Icy Pole

When you say “I’m frozen”, you’re saying you feel cold. But you’re not literally frozen. You’re using exaggeration to achieve emphasis.

This is an example of a specific type of metaphor called a hyperbolic metaphor. It’s both metaphoric (you’re saying you are something that you’re not by using analogy) and hyperbolic (you’re creating an unrealistic exaggeration for effect).

5. He Froze Up

This is a unique type of metaphor called an orientational metaphor because it uses orientational phrases (‘Up’) to create an analogy.

A person who “freezes up” could be doing one of two things. They could be physically immobile. Or, they could have a mental block where they struggle to find words to express themselves.

In the first instance, you are explaining someone (or an animal) who just isn’t moving when you would expect them to.

A good example is a deer who gets caught in headlights. The light blinds and disorients them. Even though the animal should move for its own safety, it just stands there and stares at the lights.

In the second instance, you should be saying (or thinking) something but instead, you can’t get the words out of your mouth. This might happen to you when you get ‘stage fright’.

You walk out onto a stage in front of 500 people to give a speech but your fear makes you ‘freeze up’ and you can’t speak.

6. His Heart is Ice

At the core of this metaphor is the concept of ‘cold-heartedness’.

A person who is cold-hearted is considered to be mean and uncaring. You could imagine they lack empathy and compassion.

The tenor (the thing being described) is an unkind person, and the vehicle (the analogy) is a heart without warmth.

Here again, we’re seeing ‘cold’ symbolizes ‘uncaring’ (as compared to ‘warm’ symbolizing ‘inviting and comforting’).

An example of this metaphor in film is the extended metaphor of the White Witch in Narnia. Because she’s considered uncaring (and therefore unfeminine) she is framed as ‘cold’, to the extent that she creates an endless winter over the land.

7. I was Left out in the Cold (Brought in from the Cold)

To be left out in the cold doesn’t mean to be literally sent outside to stand in the cold weather. Rather, it means that information is withheld from you. You are not part of an ‘inner circle’ of people who have the information.

For example, if a member of your family falls pregnant and everyone else in the family is told about it but not you, then you were left out in the cold.

If your family then decides to let you become part of the inner circle and shares the exclusive information, you are then ‘brought in’ from the cold.

The analogy is that you could picture in your mind someone standing outside in cold weather looking in the window at everyone sitting around a warm fire. You feel like you’re excluded from something nice.

This is an example of what we call a container metaphor, where being ‘outside’ vs ‘inside’ are central to the analogy.

Read Also: Winter Symbolism in Literature and Film

8. It was Pried from my Cold Dead Hands

The phrase “you’d have to pry it from my cold dead hands” uses coldness as an analogy for death. You’ll notice this analogy used elsewhere later in this article also, such as in the simile dead cold.

Our bodies are always warm. Sometimes you may feel your hands and feet are freezing, but, in reality, internally we operate at a steady temperature. So when someone is dead cold, it means … well, they’re dead!

We can also use the phrase ‘dead cold’ like stone-cold: meaning complete absence of heat.

But pried from my dead cold hands is a hyperbolic idiom that really means “you’ll have to kill me to get it”.

9. I’ve got Cold Feet

To have cold feet means to change your mind at the last minute and decide not to do something you had previously committed to.

It’s usually used to refer to brides who pull out of a marriage at the last minute.

Less commonly, you could use the term to refer to anyone losing their nerve at the last minute. For example, you could say “I planned to go skydiving but I got cold feet on the day”.

One of the earliest recorded uses of this phrase is from the German novel “Seed Time and Harvest” by Fritz Reuter published in 1862. In this book, the bride who gets cold feet is a shoemaker, which might be a possible explanation of the metaphor.

We call metaphors like this one where the original meaning is lost in time ‘dead metaphors’.

10. My Thoughts are Frozen (aka I’m having a Brain Freeze)

A ‘brain freeze’ isn’t literally the freezing of your brain. It refers to one of two things.

First, it can refer to the inability for your thoughts to flow freely.

Here, it’s an example of an implied metaphor, where the implication is that your thoughts should flow like a river, but they are instead behaving like a glacier – they’re not flowing. But instead of saying “my thoughts are a glacier”, you’re saying they’re “frozen”.

Second, it can be an example of an idiom referring to the feeling when you’ve drunk something cold, leading to a searing short-term pain in your brain. We would also call this a cold-stimulus headache.

11. I Caught a Cold

The operative term in this phrase that makes it a metaphor is the term “caught”. We could call this an implied metaphor because the analogy here (to sports or games, such as baseball) is not explicit.

I would also consider this an example of a conventional metaphor (a type of metaphor where it’s become central to our communication). It’s hard to describe the transmission of a virus without the phrase ‘caught’, as it’s so central to our lexicon. You could, perhaps, say, you “have become infected” – although this may sound awkward to a native speaker’s ear.

Cold Similes

12. He’s Cold as a Stone

This phrase is used for several purposes.

First it could refer to something being absent of heat. It’s often used to refer to tea and coffee that has been sitting out for too long and lost its heat. For example, you could say “I got distracted and now my tea is stone cold. I had better put the kettle back on.”

cold similes

Second it could be used as a substitute for the phrase completely, such as in the phrase “stone-cold killer”. Here, you would be using the traits of a stone (cold, hard) to draw comparison to the traits of the killer (emotionless – where ‘cold’ is often used in English to mean uncaring).

Third, it could refer to a person who is ‘cold’ (in this case symbolizing efficient and emotionless). This is best summed up in the nickname of Stone-Cold Steve Austin, a wrestling persona who destroys his opponents emotionlessly and without remorse.

Read Also: A List of Stone Metaphors

13. Cold as Ice

Famous for the 1977 song Cold as Ice by Foreigner, this simile compares someone to ice. It utilizes the symbolic meaning of cold as emotionless and unkind.

You would call someone cold as ice if you think they’re rude to you or don’t take your emotions into account.

In the song by Foreigner, they are referring to a woman who the singer was in love with. However, he seems to have come to the bitter realization that she is not a very nice person. She is materialistic and selfish.

14. Cold as Death

Something that is cold as death will lack any warmth or radiance at all. People who are alive will always radiate some heat from our bodies, but when we die, that heat dissipates.

We will usually use this term to refer to something that should radiate heat, but whose heat has gone. For example, you might this simile it to refer to a cup of tea that has gone cold.

Read Also: Death Metaphors

15. Cold as a January Night

In the northern hemisphere, January is one of the coldest months. We can use the coldness of January (and in particular the night – which is typically the coldest time of day) to make a point about the temperature of otherwise unrelated things.

For example, if it’s the middle of summer but you’re going through an unseasonal cold snap, you might exaggerate to make your point: “It’s as cold as a January night. Turn on the heater!”

Read Also: Winter Metaphors

16. Cold as a Dog’s Nose

There’s no clear evidence that dogs have particularly cold noses. We humans also have cold extremities (our hands and feet) because they’re the parts of the body farthest from the heart.

However, you could imagine that a dog that has been out playing in the cold weather or snow might run inside and have a particularly cold nose, just like you and I might.

Nevertheless, “cold as a dog’s nose” has become a common simile that you can use to refer to anything that is particularly chilly!

Read Also: Dog Metaphors

17. Cold as my Mother-in-Law on my Wedding Day

This humorous simile makes a joke out of the relationship between the speaker and his mother-in-law. It implies that his mother-in-law was not particularly happy that he was marrying her daughter. He wasn’t good enough for her.

As with previous similes and metaphors listed in this article, we can see again that ‘cold’ is associated with someone who is unkind, dislikes you, or ill-willed toward you.

Conclusion

Cold metaphors and similes can help us to create a clear image in our reader’s mind. Some of these metaphors also make an appearance in my article about coldness idioms (as idioms and metaphors overlap in many ways), so if you want to go into more depth on figurative language for coldness, check out that article.

And if none of the above suit, make one up yourself. For a metaphor, you need to say (or imply) that something is something it’s not. For a simile, you say something is like something it is not. The comparison only works, however, if the two things have some similar traits that you want to draw attention to.

Leave a Comment