English Idioms about Winter

Over here in America, we’re in the heart of winter time! For many people, that means we are hibernating, just like bears, and not leaving our house! While we’re inside keeping warm, here are some fun idioms about winter!

Tip of the Iceberg

Today’s first idiom is tip of the iceberg. This phrase is usually spoken in a negative way to refer to a problem that is much bigger than it initially seems.

We say this because when an iceberg sticks out of the water, you only see a small part of it, and have no idea how big it really is underneath.

The e captain of the Titanic certainly experienced more than just the tip of the iceberg!

The e captain of the Titanic certainly experienced more than just the tip of the iceberg!


The cut on my leg is only the tip of the iceberg. The doctor is worried that I may have broken a bone.

The flooding is bad, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Wait until the hurricane starts!

I thought paying rent was expensive, but I realized that was just the tip of the iceberg when I saw how much my heating and internet bills are!

Under the Weather

If you are feeling under the weather, it means that you are feeling unwell, and maybe a little sick.

This one is easy to remember because you can imagine how unpleasant it feels to be under a cloud of rain or stuck in the middle of a snowstorm!

Another idiom to talk about feeling ill is to say that you’re sick as a dog! 🤧

Lilly called out sick from work today because she was feeling under the weather.

Jared was skiing all weekend in a snow storm, so it came as no surpsie when he was feeling under the weather when he got home!

Kathleen was really hoping she would feel good enough to go to the concert, but even after a lot of rest and chicken soup, shse was still feeling under the weather and had to stay home.

Cold Shoulder

If someone is intentionally being rude, mean, or unfriendly, you can say that they are giving you the cold shoulder.

It is rumored by Phrases.org that this expression began in the early 1800’s. When a family would have a welcomed visitor, they would serve them a nice hot meal, but when they had an unwelcome visitor, they would serve them a cold shoulder of meat. 🍖❄️

Ian hoped that him and his ex-girlfriend could be friends, but whenever he tried to talk to her, she gave him the cold shoulder.

My roommate came home late last night and was loud and woke me up, so the next morning I gave her the cold shoulder. Once she apologized and made me coffee, I forgave her.

Christine's co-worker gave her the cold shoulder after she realized that Christine hadn't invited her to her wedding.

When Hell Freezes Over

This next expression is very informal and even a little offensive, so be careful who you say it to!

If something is guaranteed to never happen, you can say that it’ll happen when hell freezes over. This is a sarcastic comment, because obviously, hell is not going to freeze over!


I'll apologize to him when hell freezes over!

You can expect a pay raise... when hell freezes over!

Gabriel's mom promised to buy him a car when hell freezes over!

Break the Ice

To do something funny in a tense situation can be called breaking the ice. For example, if you are in a new English class, your teacher might start out with some fun games known as icebreakers to help students get to know each other better and become more comfortable in the class.

When the elevator broke, I was stuck in it for 2 hours with a stranger, so I made some jokes to help break the ice.

It's hard to break the ice on a first date, but I find that telling a funny story helps!

A friendly smile and little wave can be a simple way to break the ice at a new job.

on thin ice

This Ginseng English idiom is on thin ice.  We use this one to talk about a situation where someone is doing something that is very risky and could be dangerous if something goes wrong.

This idiom is great to visualize because you can easily imagine what it’s like to actually walk on thin ice knowing that it could break at any time, and you could fall into freezing water!  

We also might say someone is treading, or skating, on thin ice. ⛸⛸


I wanted to ask my mom for money to go to the movies, but I was already walking on thin ice after coming home too late last night, so I decided against it.

Jo-Anne was late to work three times this week, so when she left for her luch break, her boss told her that she's skating on thin ice and she better come back on time.

The company was in a lot of financial trouble and was treading on thin ice with the government.

Take a Chill Pill

This next one is a funny expression, but it needs to be said with a smile so that you don’t offend someone! If someone is very worried or anxious about a situation, you can tell them to take a chill pill, which is another way of telling them to relax.

If something is chilled, it is cold, but we also use this word to talk about relaxing, or calming down. A pill is a type of medication, so taking a chill pill is another way of saying “chill out, dude!” 💊 💊

Ross certainly could use a chill pill in this scene!

Ross certainly could use a chill pill in this scene!

I know you're excited to see if you wont a lottery, but you have to take a chill pill and relax until the winners are announced!

Can you please take a chill pill and slow down? Driving quickly is only making us both more nervous!

Jill still has 6 months until her wedding. She really needs to take a chill pill about wedding dress shopping because she's driving her bridesmaids crazy!

Snowball Effect

A snowball effect is another great visual! Something that has a snowball effect starts out small, but as time goes on, it gets bigger and bigger.

Imagine a snowball rolling down a mountain and getting bigger and bigger. Before you know it, it’s an avalanche!

Something that has a snowball effect can be either a good or bad thing, depending on what it is. Check out the examples below to find out how!

Watch out!! Avalanche!!

Watch out!! Avalanche!!

Andrew ignored his credit card debt for so long that it has snowballed into a major problem.

The new movie wasn't well known until social media started talking about it, which had a snowball effect, and it became very popular!

As more and more women become members of congress, it creates a snowball effect and opens doors for more women to get involved in the government.

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