From German Low German [Term?]. Analysable as un- + verfroren, literally “not frozen, not chilled to the bone”. It is supposed that the word is eventually a modification of Middle Low German unvervērt (“fearless”). Compare Dutch onvervaard and Norwegian Bokmål forferde, forferdelig (related to German Gefahr, English fear). While that is uncertain, the form unverfroren is definitely based on an equation of cold and fear, which is already common (see English cold feet), but which was reinforced by the fact that the unrelated Germanic verbs *freusaną (“to freeze”) and *fraisōną (“to risk; later also: to fear”) had regularly merged in Middle Low German vrēsen. Compare to this Dutch vriezen and vrezen.
- “unverfroren” in Duden online