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From Middle English cold, from Old English, specifically Anglian cald. The West Saxon form, ċeald (cold), survived as early Middle English cheald, cheld, or chald.[1] Both descended from Proto-Germanic *kaldaz, a participle form of *kalaną (to be cold), from Proto-Indo-European *gel- (cold). Cognate with Scots cald, cauld (cold), Saterland Frisian koold (cold), West Frisian kâld (cold), Dutch koud (cold), Low German kold, koolt, koold (cold), German kalt (cold), Danish kold (cold), Norwegian kald (cold), Swedish kall (cold).



cold (comparative colder, superlative coldest)

  1. (of a thing) Having a low temperature.
    A cold wind whistled through the trees.
  2. (of the weather) Causing the air to be cold.
    The forecast is that it will be very cold today.
  3. (of a person or animal) Feeling the sensation of coldness, especially to the point of discomfort.
    She was so cold she was shivering.
  4. Unfriendly, emotionally distant or unfeeling.
    She shot me a cold glance before turning her back.
    • 2011 April 23, Doctor Who, series 6, episode 1, The Impossible Astronaut:
      RIVER SONG (upon seeing the still-living DOCTOR, moments after he made her and two other friends watch what they thought was his death): This is cold. Even by your standards, this is cold.
    • 1960, P[elham] G[renville] Wodehouse, chapter VII, in Jeeves in the Offing, London: Herbert Jenkins, OCLC 1227855:
      “Suppose someone pops in?” “Don't be silly. Mrs Cream is working on her book. Phyllis is in her room, typing Upjohn's speech. Wilbert's gone for a walk. Upjohn isn't here. The only character who could pop in would be the Brinkley Court ghost. If it does, give it a cold look and walk through it. That'll teach it not to come butting in where it isn't wanted, ha ha.”
  5. Dispassionate, not prejudiced or partisan, impartial.
    Let's look at this tomorrow with a cold head.
    He's a nice guy, but the cold facts say we should fire him.
    The cold truth is that states rarely undertake military action unless their national interests are at stake.
  6. Completely unprepared; without introduction.
    He was assigned cold calls for the first three months.
  7. Unconscious or deeply asleep; deprived of the metaphorical heat associated with life or consciousness.
    I knocked him out cold.
    After one more beer he passed out cold.
  8. (usually with "have" or "know" transitively) Perfectly, exactly, completely; by heart.
    Practice your music scales until you know them cold.
    Try both these maneuvers until you have them cold and can do them in the dark without thinking.
    Rehearse your lines until you have them down cold.
    Keep that list in front of you, or memorize it cold.
  9. (usually with "have" transitively) Cornered, done for.
    With that receipt, we have them cold for fraud.
    Criminal interrogation. Initially they will dream up explanations faster than you could ever do so, but when they become fatigued, often they will acknowledge that you have them cold.
    • 1960, P[elham] G[renville] Wodehouse, chapter XIX, in Jeeves in the Offing, London: Herbert Jenkins, OCLC 1227855:
      “Either Upjohn agrees to drop that libel suit or he doesn't get these notes, as he calls them, and without them he won't be able to utter a word. He'll have to come across with the price of the papers. Won't he, Jeeves?” “He would appear to have no alternative, miss.” “Unless he wants to get up on that platform and stand there opening and shutting his mouth like a goldfish. We've got him cold.”
  10. (obsolete) Not pungent or acrid.
  11. (obsolete) Unexciting; dull; uninteresting.
    • Ben Jonson (1572-1637)
      What a deal of cold business doth a man misspend the better part of life in!
    • Joseph Addison (1672-1719)
      The jest grows cold [] when it comes on in a second scene.
  12. Affecting the sense of smell (as of hunting dogs) only feebly; having lost its odour.
    a cold scent
  13. (obsolete) Not sensitive; not acute.
    • William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
      Smell this business with a sense as cold / As is a dead man's nose.
  14. Distant; said, in the game of hunting for some object, of a seeker remote from the thing concealed. Compare warm and hot.
    You're cold … getting warmer … hot! You've found it!
  15. (painting) Having a bluish effect; not warm in colour.
  16. (databases) Rarely used or accessed, and thus able to be relegated to slower storage.



Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


cold (plural colds)

  1. A condition of low temperature.
    Come in, out of the cold.
  2. (medicine) A common, usually harmless, viral illness, usually with congestion of the nasal passages and sometimes fever.
    I caught a miserable cold and had to stay home for a week.


Derived terms[edit]

Coordinate terms[edit]



cold (comparative more cold, superlative most cold)

  1. While at low temperature.
    The steel was processed cold.
  2. Without preparation.
    The speaker went in cold and floundered for a topic.
  3. With finality.
    I knocked him out cold.
  4. (slang, informal, dated) In a cold, frank, or realistically honest manner.
    Now Little Bo Peep cold lost her sheep / And Rip van Winkle fell the hell asleep — Run Dmc, Peter Piper.


  1. ^ cold”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford: Oxford University Press, launched 2000.

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