Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Cold As…

Cold as..

When your windows ice over like this-it tells you 2 things: It’s really cold outside…and you could use some new windows.

Temperatures are supposed to be on the rise in Southern Appalachia today. But with so many areas of the US experiencing record breaking lows over the last few days I thought it was a good time to go over some cold as expressions-you know just in case it gets that cold again in a few weeks we’ll be able to complain about it in a more colorful way.

  • Cold as whiz (I still don’t really know what this means but I say it)
  • Cold as a well diggers butt
  • Blue Cold
  • Too cold to snow (I think this one might have been proved wrong during this cold snap)
  • Cold as kraut (Mary Lou McKillip sent me a message saying it was cold as kraut at her place)
  • Too cold to write your name in the snow (this is The Deer Hunters favorite)
  • Cold enough to freeze the nuts off a steel bridge
  • Cold as a Mother-n-law’s heart (not mine-Miss Cindy’s heart is full of warmth)
  • Colder than a witches titty
  • Colder than a witches tit in a brass bra
  • Cold as “gouge” (I don’t know what this one means-but it’s from Clay County NC-a blind pig reader left it in a comment one time-their Mother said it)
  • Cold as all get out
  • Cold enough for a 3 dog night
  • Too cold to stick your tongue to a flag pole
  • Cold as a frosted frog
  • Too cold to let the chickens out (ours won’t come out anyway so!)

Hoping it warms up at your place today too-and if you have any cold sayings to add leave a comment!


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  • Reply
    Charles Howell
    January 22, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    I heard in Iowa..It’s “Butt Cold”

  • Reply
    Rosamary Christiansen
    December 13, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Cold as flugers.

  • Reply
    March 15, 2017 at 11:18 am

    My dad used to say “colder than a witch’s broom handle…”

  • Reply
    Amy in North GA
    February 2, 2014 at 4:59 am

    I’m a little late to the conversation, but I wanted to add the expression “Colder than a day-old dumplin'” I’ve heard that a couple of times and thought it was funny. It certainly sounds southern or Appalachian!

  • Reply
    January 10, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Too cold to think. (And I’m living it!)

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 8, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    I worked in a frozen food warehouse for several years. The company decided to build a bigger one and turn the smaller one into a produce room. They had to let it completely thaw so they could replace the refrigeration units and racking. I told some of my co-workers that 30 years worth of farts were frozen in there and that when they started to thaw, the EPA would come and shut us down.
    It took several weeks for the floor to start to thaw and it began to heave, so that had to be replaced too.
    The new place had ice cream so that had to be -20. The rest was -10. Some of the employees would take watermelons and strawberries into the freezer and then the next day, throw them on the floor to watch them explode.
    The company supplied us with freezer suits but some of us never wore all of it. The bottoms of mine were like overhauls (we called them bibs.)The galluses bothered me so badly, I couldn’t wear them and work. So the only time I wore them was when we took inventory. Sam Potter never wore anything other than street clothes, rubber boots and gloves. He sometimes stayed in there for four hours at a time. I remember once when at lunch time (actually 3:00 AM, we were working 3rd.) Sam was missing. We sent out a search party and found a door blocked. Several pallets of Cool Whip were stacked too high and had collapsed in the doorway and Sam was trapped inside. We started stacking it back up and soon we had an opening to get Sam through. “Come on Sam its lunch time!” “Na, I can wait. I’ve got to get the rest of this mess picked up.”
    I didn’t like the rubber boots either but they would keep your feet warmer than freezer boots. I wore street shoes if I wasn’t going to be in there too long and would be moving.
    It snowed around the doors going from the dock into the freezer. The temperature on the dock was 28 so if any of it got sucked into the freezer, the moisture froze instantly and fell like a light snow. June, July or August we had snow.
    The reason we were able to tolerate those conditions was because the air inside the freezers was very dry and very still. There were fans in the ceiling where the refrigeration units were but that was 40 feet up. Sometimes, if something went wrong up there someone would have to get in a cage on the forks of a lift and go up and fix it. I guess the description of that would have to be “hell in reverse.”
    You might think that after working in those condition all day, you could go outside when it was just at 32 and feel comfy. Not so. When it’s cold out, it’s cold out, even if it’s colder inside.
    Have you ever handled dry ice? That stuff is carbon dioxide frozen to -109.3 or colder. We used to play with it. It was in little pellets like ice cubes. If you put against metal it made a squeeking sound. I would hold a piece in my fist and approach someone saying “want to see my mouse” then I would press the dry ice against my wedding band and make it squeek. I would say “I can’t open my hand too wide or he will get away.” Then I would make it squeek again. “Why are you moving your hand like that?” someone would ask. “He is just a little one, he’s running around in there.”
    That was the trick. You have to keep it moving or you will have frostbite seconds. We had to use the stuff to keep frozen foods from thawing when they were going on a dry trailer. Stack it in a freezer box, throw in a couple of pounds in dry ice and it will hold for a couple of days.

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    January 8, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    Cold, cold, cold! It’s warmer now, but today’s little bit of thaw just produced lots of ice. I prefer the snow. Ah well, we don’t always get our druthers, and as my mom would say, if wishes were horses we’d all be riding!

  • Reply
    January 8, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    I’m been in Atlanta this week on a mission trip. We’re doing some clean up and repairs to a mission center. Tuesday was the cold day and we were outside all day. Every time someone mentioned being cold I told them, “Its not cold unless your spit freezes before it hits the ground.”
    I did notice that Hell froze over this week. Its a town in Michigan.

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    January 8, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    We mostly said “it’s colder than hell”, but I don’t know what that means…

  • Reply
    John Reese
    January 8, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    I always said it was tongue stickin cold. It was 10 Below here Tuesday. It was so cold that two Beagles Had a set of jumper cables trying to get a rabbit started. Now that is cold.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    January 8, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Our old rooster got up on the wood pile this morning and was just about to crow when he was freeze dried hard as a rock. He was trying real hard to get his crowing job done; his eyes still look popped out. I guess we’ll know when it warms up because that strain on his face will ease on out into a full blown cockledoodledoo, all steamed up but loud with eagerness. Then we’ll know we can go outdoors again.

  • Reply
    Mark Selby
    January 8, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    It was so cold here in Upper East Tennessee that I saw a couple of beagle dogs with a set of booster cables trying to jump start a rabbit.

  • Reply
    Gary Powell
    January 8, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    Woke up this morning to a cold house. Furnace blower motor was not starting. Had a doctor’s appointment, so turned off furnace. Motor repair background in good stead. Cleaned and oiled motor and have heat. Was 50 degrees in house using auxiliary heat. Could have been worse.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    January 8, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    re: kraut — the expression I always heard was “colder than a kraut crock”. Believe it or not we shivered more than a bit in FL, too. My sweet grandson-in-love is a pilot and he had to do a walk around check of the plane in -9 weather. brrrrrrrrrrr

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 8, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    and Jim…tsk, tsk, tsk!
    I had to go back to my 1892 Webster’s Primary Dictionary…
    Referance to…”glandular appurtenances on termagants”.
    Glandular..resembling glands (aka in this use…(mammary glands)
    Appurtenances…that which appertains to something else..
    (adjunct..appendage or..aka in this case, rhymes with ripples!)
    Termagants..turbelent women.
    a.Turbelent…Tumultuous women
    (or in this case (aka), a woman with very large mammories.
    Soooo, oh well, you get the picture…It sure was and is cold!
    Thanks for the history lesson Jim!
    Thanks Tipper, for letting me scroll some more and research Jims big words…LOL

  • Reply
    January 8, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    I always heard, “Cold as a witch’s tit in a brass bra, as well as the well-digger one.
    In the plains states, an addition to talking about a blue norther, I also heard this added, “there’s nothing between the North Pole and here but a barbed-wire fence, and it’s down.”
    Perhaps ‘blue norther’ is from how the sky looks when one of those blows-in?

  • Reply
    Paul Certo
    January 8, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. Various interpretations of “brass monkey” exist, one was a tray used on ships to hold cannonballs. But as there are several options, this may or may not be the original.

  • Reply
    Brenda Kay Ledford
    January 8, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    This brings back many memories. I enjoyed this posting very much and these old-time mountain sayings are still great descriptions of the bone-chilling weather we’re having.
    Great to see you at TCCC.
    Stay warm!

  • Reply
    Marc Kruger
    January 8, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    My grandfather always said it was cold enough to freeze the flame on a lit match. My father’s expression was that it was so cold it froze your conversation.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    January 8, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    It was only 5 degrees up in the holler at 15 till 7. The News said it would be about 10 degrees warmer each day. That’s good news!
    All those “cold as” sayings were great,I liked the one by Howland about the cow.
    I didn’t know what Jim was talking
    about exactly, but kinda figured it
    out since he stuck to the subject
    on today’s blog. It’s been COLD!…Ken

  • Reply
    January 8, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Lots of interesting information today! [That’s not new – there usually is : )]
    Wondering if “blue blazes” has anything to do with the aurora borealis (. Pictures I’ve seen often have them looking various shades of blue looking like fire in the sky. And they definitely occur in cold country only rarely showing themselves in the lower 48 (or so I understand). Just a thought.
    I’ve frequently heard “Cold as all get out” in my family. However, most of the phrases are new to me; but growing up in south Texas, I guess that shouldn’t be surprising.
    We did worry about blue northers a lot. When they were coming in that meant we were going out to pick as many of the citrus off the trees and get them into a protected area so the fruit didn’t have to be sold a juice fruit (which commanded a much lower price). The only time I missed a day of school other than for illness or for a funeral was when one of those blue northers slowed down. We picked from after school one day, through the night and through the next day until we could feel the fruit freezing on the trees.
    The only other cold story was when my daughter and her friend were on the H.S. swim team. This was back in the late 80s when poofy bangs were in vogue. Since the school used the swimming pool at the School for the Blind in Austin, they had swim practice (the pool was heated) at 5 a.m. This particular morning it around 20 (I know – not cold by y’all’s standards but unusually cold for central Texas.) As usual the girls came out wet headed and, both being tall girls bundled in multiple sweaters and fluffy coats they bumped their bangs on the car frame as they entered the car – leaving behind pieces of broken bangs in the parking lot!!
    Guess we should all say a special prayer for the plumbers, the HVAC folks, the safety and medical personnel, the postal workers, and anyone else who has to work in the polar vortex or meat locker cold weather!!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 8, 2014 at 11:28 am

    I am tryin’ to write this as Forrest Gump might say it…
    He might say…”Jenny, I know what ‘COLD’ is!” Bless his little sweet heart! Didn’t’cha just love that movie! Oh well, back to the cold subject!
    To Garland and the rest that quoted it…That poor old Brass Monkey shore got around! I always (and I think I have said it here), “You better bring in your Brass Monkeys, ’cause hits gonna git cold!” So glad Garland went ahead and explained the “rest of the story”! LOL…Always good to cover all bases or monkeys, so to speak! LOL
    I always said, and I don’t know why this was added, but I heard it said this way growing up…”It’s colder than “whiz-dang-it” out there! Don’t know why “dang-it” was added, unless, the “little cuss” helped put a exclamation point on the deep-freeze!!!
    Jim, I always heard “cold as a cucumber” until the last few years til “so cool” got popular! I still say “cold as a cucumber”!
    Anyhow, I think all the cold sayin’s are about covered.
    Except one other one…How about “it’s cold enough to snap a handle off a pewter creamer”!…
    That happens to be on Tipper’s window sill! LOL
    Jim, you won’t get away with those words you use, ’cause I’m lookin’em up in my huge, handy dandy 1938 dictionary! If they are not there, I can go on to other “oldie” dictionaries!…No facetious remark intended! LOL
    You know it is getting to where you have to have several references to look up certain words…more are added every year and some taken away. I suppose, due to printing room/cost!
    Oh well, it’s a good cold day mind exercise!
    Thanks Tipper for a cold post!
    PS…I can’t even imagine our ancesters sittin’ around in a log cabin, with cracks peeping thru, in this cold weather…also remember that some had dirt floors, mercy! What a time they must have had during a winter vortex like the one we just had…they sure were a strong bunch!

  • Reply
    January 8, 2014 at 10:59 am

    WOW Tipper, that is some serious ice on that window! Having the same problem here and hoping for a warm-up soon! Been colder than whiz here for days.

  • Reply
    January 8, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Tipper, I think you got most of them covered. My Dad always used, “Cold as all get out.” On occasion I heard “cold as a cucumber” but think it referred to just cold and not this kind of brrrr cold. I also heard a lot of “shut the door, you weren’t raised in a barn.” Dad always commonly called it Pneumonia weather out there.

  • Reply
    teresa atkinson
    January 8, 2014 at 10:42 am

    we say cold as a well diggers ass! and cold as a witches tit.
    and the crusty old guy is wet and cold today – dealing with busted (burst) water lines
    stay warm.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    January 8, 2014 at 10:02 am

    This one seems contradictory to me: “As cold as blue blazes”–for we normally associate blazes with heat! But maybe I just don’t know about “blue blazes,” and maybe they are cold!
    Whatever, “it’s triple cold!”–morning, noon and night!

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    January 8, 2014 at 10:01 am

    I like the Deer Hunter’s favorite, too. Reminds me of things we boys did when we were kids…

  • Reply
    January 8, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Interesting collection of similies, and I am famalier with many of them. Of course, the witch’s one I heard was in a snowbank. That is my husband’s favorite one. Of course, while we are here in North FL, I haven’t heard that one out of his mouth yet. We don’t have any snow here, yet! It was 26 yesterday morning and this morning it was 32. Brrrrrrrrrrr! Another good day for a cup of hot [email protected]

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    January 8, 2014 at 9:43 am

    “Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey:
    In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons. Those cannon fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon. But how to prevent them from rolling about the deck? The best storage method devised was a square based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four resting on nine which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of thirty cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one problem — how to prevent the bottom layer fromsliding/rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate called a “Monkey” with sixteen round indentations. But, if this plate was made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make “Brass Monkeys.” Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannon balls would come right off the monkey. Thus, it was quite literally,
    “Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey!”

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    January 8, 2014 at 9:41 am

    My Granddad used to say, “it is so cold that it would freeze the balls off a brass monkey.” When I lived in Texas we used to say, a “blue norther” is coming.That meant really, really cold winds blowing in from the north. I believe that is what Texas is experiencing now. 46 degrees in Phoenix this morning with a high predicted of 68.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    January 8, 2014 at 9:26 am

    The two sayings I used to hear from my parents were, “cold as a wedge” and “cold as ice.” I love the colorful Appalachian similes.

  • Reply
    steve in tn
    January 8, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Funny list. We can grant you artistic liberty for a few of the words because the all are accurate reporting of common sayings. Good to be reminded of them.

  • Reply
    January 8, 2014 at 9:10 am

    It’s colder than all get out, whatever that means. Colder than a well digger’s hind end was used often by my parents. Mom wouldn’t say the other word. We knew what it meant as she often threatened to ‘whup’ ours.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    January 8, 2014 at 9:06 am

    My mama used three expressions:
    Cold as Blitzen.
    Cold as a well-digger’s knee.
    Colder than a by-golly.
    The “by-golly” cold was so cold I couldn’t go out
    to play. I guess the well-diggers quit and went home when it got THAT cold!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    January 8, 2014 at 8:46 am

    I think you guys covered all the ones I’ve ever heard and them some. Let me tell you though I was freezing yesterday, even where I live. But warming up today.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    January 8, 2014 at 8:44 am

    Tipper–I can add a few, and if you can get by with reference to glandular appurtenances on termagants (I’ll let you and your readers puzzle that one out) I reckon some of these will pass muster.
    Cold as the pope’s passion.
    Cold as the pope’s pecker.
    Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.
    Cold as blue blazes.
    Cold as a nude in Nome, Alaska.
    Cold as the North Pole.
    Cold as death.
    Cold as a stone.
    Cold as a cucumber (I normally hear it “cool as a cucumber,” but the English writers Beaumont and Fletcher had it “as cold as a cucumber”).
    Cold as a miser’s heart.
    Cold enough to make a rhododendron leaf tight as a cigarette.
    By any standard of measurement, it is cold. I talked to some friends yesterday who live up at the head of Granny Squirrel Cove (over near Topton in Ken Roper’s stomping grounds) and they were looking at -2 degrees. High up on that ridge, I bet the wind chill had to be -15. That’s precisely why our forebears built down in the hollows.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 8, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Tipper, I had ice on the inside of some of my windows and my glass door was frozen closed. I couldn’t open it till midday. The cats wanted out but only stayed long enough to turn around a come back in. Then they glared at me like it was my fault!
    The cold water in my kitchen was frozen till mid afternoon when the sun hit the back of the house. That has never happened before and I’ve been here since 1987!
    You’ve listed all the cold expressions I’ve heard. Cold as whiz is the one I use most often.
    Congratulations to Ken!! He became a Great-Grandpa yesterday!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    January 8, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Dad would say it was as cold as a wedge. I assume he meant a steel wedge used to split wood. Grandpa would say you’ll freeze your arse off out their!

  • Reply
    Kerry in GA
    January 8, 2014 at 7:51 am

    Several years ago during a cold spell a guy at work said “Its so cold I looked out in the yard this morning and a little bird was out there trying to dig it up a worm with an ice pick.” We all got a good laugh out of that. 🙂

  • Reply
    January 8, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Cold as sin.
    Cold as a whore’s heart.

  • Reply
    January 8, 2014 at 7:43 am

    It was so cold yesterday mornin’ that we had to build a fire around the cow before we could milk her…

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull, PhD
    January 8, 2014 at 7:27 am

    Well Tipper, it is ‘plenty cold’ here this morning. Now that expression from Clay County seems awful familiar to me – but it might just be that I am from Clay County and have no trouble relating to any expression originating in Clay. Today is going to be warm enough that I will be going swimming! Hope things warm up over there fairly soon.
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    January 8, 2014 at 7:24 am

    As soon as I saw the subject, I immediately thought about a couple that I’d be likely to use, but also thought:
    “There’s no way that Tipper would quote them.”
    I was wrong!
    How cold is it?
    It’s so cold that Tipper’s blog is R-rated. (That’s R as in R-R-R-Refrigerated).
    By the way, I’ve always heard “It’s colder than a witch’s titty on Halloween.”

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