Baby, it’s cold outside.

Recently, the USA has been getting record low temperatures. It even snowed in Florida! Here in the northern state of Vermont, I woke up to another day with a temperature below zero.

Today I’m going to give you a list of different expressions you can use to more naturally talk about the cold.


A cold front –

“There is a cold front moving in.” -The weatherman

(Noun phrase) It means a weather pattern of cold air is coming to your region. If your weatherman says this on the TV or radio, be ready to bundle up!

A cold snap –

“We are having a cold snap, so wear your long underwear.” -Your English Teacher’s Mom

“When is this cold snap going to end?!?!?! That’s it, I’m taking a vacation to somewhere warm!” -Your English Teacher

(Noun phrase) This is a weather pattern when everything suddenly gets really cold for several days or even weeks. It is colder than usual.


Frigid –

“I really can’t stand frigid weather.” -Me again

“It is frigid outside. I don’t want to go out.” -My dog, if she could speak.

Frigid is an adjective to describe extreme cold. It can also be used to describe a very cruel or uncaring person.


Negative –

“Sorry, I’m going to be late to work today. It is negative 18 outside and my car isn’t starting!”  -A lot of people in the USA recently.

(Adjective) This is the most typical way to talk about temperatures that are under 0 degrees. Note that we don’t follow it with “degrees”, just “negative 18.”
Remember that in the USA, we use Fahrenheit, so 0 degrees for us is -17.8 degrees in Celsius. (Which means that the image at the top of -11 degrees is actually -23.8 degrees Celsius…eek!)


Below (zero) –

“Oh my God. It is 11 below outside. I am not leaving the house today.” -Your English Teacher again.

(Adverb) This is the typical way to talk about the temperature when it falls into the negative numbers. So “-17 degrees” is “seventeen below zero.” The “zero” can often be omitted when it is clear that you are talking about the temperature.


Subzero –

“Subzero temperatures in the Northeast are expected through the weekend.” -The weatherman again, who, unfortunately, was not wrong this time!

“Let’s not go for that hike tomorrow. It is supposed to be subzero out!” -My friend, canceling our weekend plans.

This is an adjective to describe that the temperature has dropped below 0 degrees.


BONUS – Informal/Slang expression
It is cold as (*expletive/swear word) out there! –

“No, I’m NOT going to meet you outside the movie theater. Have you seen the temperature?! It is cold as f*$# out today. I’ll wait for you inside, like a sane person.” -Anyone trying to meet for a date today.

This is a very informal idiomatic expression that you can use if you are talking with a good friend. You should not use it in any formal or business situations, or it will be VERY rude!

You can change the expletive to be anything else that inspires you. The most typical is “f*$%”. (Not sure what that is? Google “the f-word”.)

If you have any questions or feedback, let me know! I always love hearing from my students!
Or, sign up for your next English class here.

Stay warm and safe this weekend!