Recently some moronic foreigners have been heard moaning about the feebleness of Polish winters these days. I won’t mention any names to save embarrassment. Fortunately the ill-informed rantings of these laughable fools have been silenced by what the locals like to call a ‘winter attack.’ Today I went outside and several important parts of my body immediately turned blue and dropped off. I scuttled round the corner to check the thermometer display outside my local shop but something had clearly gone wrong with it since there were altogether too many digits after the minus sign. I noticed a couple of babcie who had taken the precaution of wearing two fur coats at the same time thereby taking on the appearance of cube-shaped yetis.
Some time later, when electrical activity had restarted in my brain, I got to thinking about the language we use to describe cold – cold idioms if you prefer. It has come to my attention that a number of Polish people read this blog and I feel it is my duty to explain some of the weirder aspects of colloquial English that may have escaped their notice.
Here then are the top idioms and phrases with the word cold
1. Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey
The grandaddy of all idioms with the word cold. It can be handily translated into Polish as:
Cold enough to freeze the piłki off a mosiężna małpa
Cold enough to freeze the jajka off a mosiężna małpa
There is some confusion among English-speaking people as to which is the correct interpretation given the ambiguousness of the word ‘balls.’ Students of the English language and Americans are advised not to try and understand the phrase and just accept that it means ‘bloody cold.’ Often abbreviated to “Brass monkeys weather.”
Christ mate, it’s brass monkeys out there!
2. Cold turkey
The inevitable result of a foolish drunken resolution to give up smoking made on New Years’ Eve. Also the traditional meal eaten by English people in the seven days after Christmas
If I see one more cold turkey sandwich I’m going to start smoking again!
3. Cold fish
The traditional meal eaten by Polish people in the seven days after Christmas. Very similar to cold turkey but with a lot more bones in it.
If I see one more cold fish sandwich I’m going to start smoking turkey!
4. It’s too cold to snow
A traditional British phrase that must, by law, be used whenever the temperature drops below 5 degrees and somebody mentions the possibility of snow at Christmas.
I heard they never have white Christmases at the North Pole because it’s just too cold to snow.
5. The spy who came in from the cold
Nobody really knows what this means, but it sounds cool and makes you think of female KGB agents wearing fur coats with nothing underneath.
You look like the spy who came in from the cold.
What does that even mean?
I have no idea.
6. To get the cold shoulder
What happens when your duvet slips off in the middle of the night. Closely related to the phrases ‘to get the tepid buttock,’ ‘to get the nippy finger,’ and ‘to get the feverish knee.’
I got the cold shoulder from my girlfriend so I gave her the feverish knee and we’re off to the Caribbean on Tuesday.
7. Cold snap
A term favoured by British weather forecasters and headline writers that means cold weather at odd times of the year, such as the middle of January. According to the dictionary it implies that the cold is unexpected and short-lived, but this is universally ignored.
(Genuine) examples include:
Cold snap blamed on Arctic air
Britain braces for winter cold snap
Britain in grip of longest cold snap for 10 years
Cold snap ‘could kill a dozen pensioners every hour’
Example of Polish idioms to do with the cold will be gratefully received and lovingly archived in Polandians extensive data center.