Now, the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.
Cold weather has a great effect on how our minds and our bodies work. Maybe that is why there are so many expressions that use the word cold.
The ramparts of Luzern, Switzerland at twilight (Steve Ember/VOA)
For centuries, the body's blood has been linked closely with the emotions. People who show no human emotions or feelings, for example, are said to be cold-blooded. Cold-blooded people act in cruel ways. They may do brutal things to others, and not by accident.
For example, a newspaper says the police are searching for a cold-blooded killer. The killer murdered someone, not in self-defense, or because he was reacting to anger or fear. He seemed to kill for no reason, and with no emotion, as if taking someone's life meant nothing.
Cold can affect other parts of the body -- the feet, for example. Heavy socks can warm your feet, if your feet are really cold. But there is an expression -- to “get cold feet” -- that has nothing to do with cold or your feet. The expression means being afraid to do something you had decided to do. For example, you agree to be president of an organization. But then you learn that all the other officers have resigned. All the work of the organization will be your responsibility. You are likely to “get cold feet” about being president when you understand the situation.
Cold can also affect your shoulder.
You give someone the cold shoulder when you refuse to speak to them. You treat them in a distant, cold way. The expression probably comes from the physical act of turning your back toward someone, instead of speaking to him face-to-face. You may give a cold shoulder to a friend who has not kept a promise he made to you. Or, to someone who has lied about you to others.
A cold fish is not a fish. It is a person. But it is a person who is unfriendly, unemotional and shows no love or warmth. A cold fish does not offer much of himself to anyone.
Someone who is a cold fish could be cold-hearted. A cold-hearted person is someone who has no sympathy. Several popular songs in recent years were about cold-hearted men or cold-hearted women who, without feeling, broke the hearts of their lovers.
Out in the cold is an expression often heard. It means not getting something that everybody else got. A person might say that everybody but him got a pay raise -- that he was left out in the cold. And it is not a pleasant place to be.
Alpine Winter: A winter scene on Schynige Platte in the Swiss Alps (Steve Ember/VOA)
This VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories was written by Marilyn Rice Christiano.
Maurice Joyce was the narrator.
I’m Shirley Griffith.
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