10 English idioms and expressions related to ice


These useful phrases can be the icing on the cake for your writing and conversational skills

Susan Ramsay |

Latest Articles

Hong Kong musician Serrini sets up scholarship for HKU art students

‘Squid Game’ is Netflix’s biggest tv show ever

Breakthrough in pig-to-human transplants with new test

‘My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission’ is a must-watch for fans and new viewers

Hong Kong Disneyland makes “happiest place on earth” a little less happy

For people who live in hot climates, ice is a luxury, but for those who have to cope with much colder weather, it can be dangerous. As we shiver through the chilly season, let’s check out some idioms and phrases to do with ice

1 Tip of the iceberg

Icebergs are floating mountains of ice. They are dangerous to humans because it’s hard to tell how big they are. This is because only the tip of the iceberg can be seen above the surface of the water. This can lead to ships crashing into icebergs and sinking.

So when you want to tell someone that the problem is far worse than they think, you say that it’s the tip of the iceberg.

Use: “We already have a few hundred confirmed cases of measles, but doctors think it is just the tip of the iceberg.”

23 time idioms to make your writing more interesting

2 Skating / Walking on thin ice

While we might skate at the rink in a shopping mall, people who live in cold places can skate on frozen ponds or rivers. They might also have to walk across them.

It’s best to do all these things on thick ice. The last thing you want is for the ice to break so that you fall into the freezing water. So, to skate on thin ice means to do something dangerous.

Use: “It might be fine to act the fool when the teacher is not around, but you’ll be skating on thin ice if you try it while the prefects are watching.”

3 Ice in your veins

Someone who is “hot-blooded” is usually very emotional and anxious. Someone who is cold-blooded is exactly the opposite. So, someone who has ice in their veins is calm and controlled even when they are under a lot of pressure.

Use: “I admire those bomb disposal experts. They need to have ice in their veins to do what they do.”

4 Break the ice

Start a conversation or other sort of interaction between strangers.

Use: “If you need to break the ice on the first day of a camp, organise some games where people have to talk to each other.”

5 Put (something) on ice

Stop or postpone an idea or project.

Use: “While we were all keen for the new school hall to open as soon as possible, plans had to be put on ice while we dealt with the leak in the cloakroom.”

13 idioms about change and improving yourself to give your writing a fresh start

6 Ice queen

A girl who is not very friendly.

Use: “At first we thought Julie was such an ice queen, but once you get to know her, you realise she’s really funny and friendly.”

7 Sell ice to Eskimos

To be able to sell anything to anyone, even though they don’t need it. Eskimo is a catch-all phrase used to describe people who live near the North Pole, though it is now thought to be rude.

Use: “By the end of the fair we still had a lot of orchids left which no one seemed to want. Then Justin arrived and managed to sell most of the flowers. He could even sell ice to Eskimos.”

8 Cuts no ice

Makes no difference. It can be used to warn someone not to break the rules.

Use: “The fact that you’re the principal’s daughter cuts no ice with me. You’ll still be given detention.”

9 The icing on the cake

Something extra that makes a good thing even better.

Use: “I was just glad to be invited to the party, but I heard Lynne is also going, and that is just the icing on the cake.”

10 Ice down

Put ice on an injured part of the body to stop it from swelling.

Use: “I hurt my knee playing football but Mum iced it down and now it’s a lot better.”

Gifs via GIPHY