Some of my favorite winter similes and metaphors include:
- Winter is a long sleep.
- It is like a long journey across oceans.
- It is like watching grass grow.
- It is a month of Sundays.
Some great winter themed idioms include:
- You’re a snowflake.
- Let’s break the ice.
- You’re skating on thin ice.
Below are all 15 of my favorite examples and explanations of figurative language for the coldest of seasons!
Winter Metaphors, Similes and Idioms
1. Winter is a Long Sleep
During winter, things really slow down. You might stop your hobbies, exercise less, go out with friends less, and enter some sort of state of hibernation. And in fact it’s no coincidence that animals hibernate in the winter. It’s a time of sleepiness, less daytime, and more nighttime.
You could use this metaphor when talking about how you have been in the preceding months. If someone asks you how your winter has been, you could say: “It’s been a long sleep, really. Wake me up when it’s over!”
Just be careful to be clear it’s in the right context because the “long sleep” is also a metaphor for death.
2. Like a Long Journey across Oceans
This simile refers to a long period of time between respite. Sometimes winter can feel like a long, long time of coldness. It can lead to seasonal depression and unhappiness. And at the very beginning of the season, you feel like the end is a long way off.
This feeling of endlessness is analogous to a journey across oceans. When you’re just setting out on the journey, it feels like it will be a long, long time and you can’t see the end coming for a long way off.
3. Like watching Grass Grow
Another way to describe your feeling that the winter is long and endless is to compare it to grass growing. If you were to sit and watch grass grow, you would be sitting and staring for a long time – weeks or even months – before seeing any noticeable change. The excruciating boredom of watching grass grow is invoked here to show how winter is similarly long and boring for many people.
4. A Wintery Landscape Greeted Me
This one is a more positive use of figurative language to describe winter. It personifies winter, giving it the traits of a human. It ‘greets’ you, like a human might. And of course, a greeting is usually a positive thing.
So when we say that winter greets us, you can picture someone putting on their warm winter mittens and a cute coat, then opening the doors to a snowy, playful day. As you walk out into the weather you feel upbeat about the beautiful white scenery – you feel as if you’re greeted by a beautiful sight.
5. Winter is a Month of Sundays
Type: Metaphor and Idiom
The idiom ‘a month of Sundays’ is a way of saying ‘a very long time’. A month of Sundays would be 30 Sundays – which would be 30 weeks! But, we use this term figuratively to refer to anything that takes a very long time.
So to say winter is a month of Sundays isn’t to say that it is literally 30 weeks long. Rather, we’re just saying it’s a really long time. People are most likely going to say this in the depths of winter – maybe mid-February – to refer to that feeling that the season is dragging on and on.
6. The Winter Gnawed at my Bones
Of course, winter cannot gnaw. Gnawing implies it has teeth! But we use this term to refer to cold weather that seems to seep into our skin and eat away at our bones. It’s as if we can feel the cold deep down. This might be a feeling that you have in the depths of a December snow storm on your way home from the bus stop.
7. Winter Banished the Warmth
To say that winter ‘banished’ something is to once again give it human qualities. Banishing implies that winter has some ability to tell warm weather to ‘go away!’ But, we use this phrase figuratively to add flair to the idea that cold weather has come and in some way ‘overtaken’ the warmth of summer.
8. Winter Dragged On
Type: Figurative Language
To say that something ‘dragged on’, you’re referring to a sense that something is tedious and seemingly never ending. You can imagine if you’re trying to drag something along the ground, there is a lot of friction that makes carrying the object difficult.
So, when we say winter dragged on, we’re referring to the idea that it’s a season that can get long and tedious. By the end, a lot of people want it to just be over and for the sun to come out.
Idioms Related to Winter
These idioms are winter themed, but not about the season per se.
Read Also: A List of Nature Idioms
9. Walking on Thin Ice
Walking on thin ice is a phrase that means that you are doing something dangerous or risky. If someone was walking (or skating) on thin ice, there’s a chance the ice will break and they will sink.
There are two main contexts in which you would use this phrase.
In the first context, you might use this phrase when referring to someone who is engaging in activities that might cause them harm. For example, you could use it when talking about someone who is doing anything from dangerous rock climbing to making risky public commentary.
In the second context, it is used as a way to warn someone that they’re doing something annoying or offensive. When you’re annoying your mother, she might say: “Stop it. You’re skating on thin ice and might lose your TV privileges if you’re not careful!”
10. Break the Ice
To break the ice means to end the awkwardness and discomfort of an initial meeting between people. You might have heard of ‘ice breaker games’, which are games that teachers often use at the start of a school year so students can get to know one another.
Another common ice breaker is a simple joke that will get people to laugh and feel more comfortable around you.
11. Snowed Under
To be snowed under means to have so much work to do that you cannot handle it. You can imagine someone who has had so much paperwork piled up around them that it looks like they’re under a pile of white snow and they can’t escape.
Similarly, if someone is “snowed in” they literally cannot leave their home due to the amount of snow out their door. So, to be “snowed under” is idiomatically used to say people are so burdened with work that they cannot make plans with their friends or have time to relax.
12. You’re a Snowflake
To call someone a snowflake means that they are people who lack resilience. They have an over-inflated sense of entitlement, get offended too easily, and cannot handle difficult conversations.
Snowflakes (literal snowflakes!) are fragile things. They will melt within moments of touching your hand and their structure will totally collapse. So, saying someone’s a snowflake draws reference to this idea that people are likely to similarly collapse (or be unable to handle things) at a moment’s notice.
13. Winter is Coming
Popularized by the television show (and perhaps book) Game of Thrones, the term ‘Winter is Coming’ is used in this series to refer to a long-anticipated period of cold, which will be accompanied by hardship and a great war from the North.
But the phrase has been turned into a meme that is used whenever we are talking about something that is about to arrive that will require us to brace ourselves. For example, you might use the meme if you’re a restaurant worker and anticipating a rush of customers – “Brace yourselves, winter is coming!”
14. It Snowballed
Something that snowballs is a thing that grows in size, relevance or importance very quickly.
If you get a small snowball and roll it down a snowy hill, it will get bigger and bigger as it picks up snow as it rolls. So, we use this idea to refer to anything that will grow quickly as time passes. This can refer to anything from an idea to a group of people.
For example, you might say that an idea snowballed if it started as just a thought in your mind, then suddenly it gathered so much momentum and added detail that you think: “I can turn this simple idea into an entire book!”
15. A Snowbird
A snowbird is a Canadian or American who has two homes. They have one home in northern areas during the northern summer, but during the winter they head to their home down south – usually Florida or Arizona.
The idea here is that these people migrate like birds during the seasons. And because it’s snow that scares them away from the Northern winter, we have come to call them “snowbirds”.
Winter metaphors and similes tend to refer to winter as a time that is long and tedious. But sometimes we can also see it as a magical and romantic time of year. It’s really a subjective thing depending on who you are and what your preferences are.
The winter idioms listed here are also related to the season, but generally can be used in completely unrelated contexts.
If none of these metaphors, similes or idioms work for you, do remember you can make up your own figurative language that suits your preferences and personality!
You can also check out other seasonal figurative language articles, like my list of spring metaphors here.
I’m a Scorpio, I love the outdoors, and I’ve written articles in some major online publications like Medium and The Weekly. My favorite metaphor? Anything that’s got to do with baseball. I’m fascinated by the fact our language has baseball weaved all through it. Read more about me here.