Wintry Idioms and Expressions in Foreign Languages

The holidays are almost here, and they’re bringing the winter weather with them. In true Fluent City fashion, we’ve gathered up a number of winter-inspired idioms, words, and expressions in several different languages. No matter which ones you know or will use, we hope they bring some warmth to your chilly day.

1. Hace un frío de perros (Spanish) - It’s a cold of dogs

This Spanish idiom can literally be translated to “It’s a cold of dogs,” but it might be more accurate to say something like, “It’s dog weather.” There’s a similar expression in German - hundewetter (dog weather). You can use it to mean that it’s bitterly cold outside.

2. Il fait un temps de Toussaint (French) - It’s All Saint’s weather

Toussaint, or All Saint’s Day, is a day to remember the dead. No one is feeling particularly cheerful or sunny on such a day. You can use this expression whenever the weather is gray and gloomy. All Saint’s Day is November 1, when the weather has a high chance of being drab and depressing.

3. Saukalt (German) - Pig’s cold

For when “really cold” just won’t do it, “pig-cold” is reserved for when temperatures drop to unbearable levels. In other words, use it to describe when it’s really cold outside.

Photo Credit: Amit Shaw / Unsplash

4. 雨降って地固まる, pronounced “Amefuttedjikatamaru” (Japanese) - It rains and the ground solidifies

Many Japanese expressions and phrases revolve around nature. This one is similar to the English “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” It means that the human spirit can grow stronger after going through a difficult experience.

5. Romper el hielo (Spanish) - Break the ice

This idiom is used in Spanish in exactly the same way it is in English. If you do something to diffuse the awkwardness of a situation, you’re “breaking the ice,” usually through conversation or friendly gestures.

6. холод, хоть волков морозь, pronounced “kholod khot volkov moroz” (Russian) -You can freeze wolves

It gets so cold in Siberia that you could freeze a wolf right in its tracks. In a country where temperatures can drop below -40 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll be sure to use this expression at some point.

7. Depois da tempestade vem a bonança. (Portuguese) - After the storm comes the calm

While in English we often talk about “the calm before the storm,” this Portuguese expression refers to a storm’s aftermath. It’s another way of saying that things are usually calm after an upheaval, or that there will be peace after a difficult and chaotic time.

Photo Credit: Ryan Loughlin / Unsplash

8. Schnee von gestern (German) - Yesterday’s snow

Yesterday’s snow is similar to saying “that’s water under the bridge” in English. This winter-inspired idiom is used to assure someone that some point of contention is now a bygone. It’s particularly useful for making a fresh start as a new year approaches!

9. 雪上加霜 , pronounced “xuěshàngjiāshuāng” (Chinese) - To add frost above snow

This wintry idiom is used in Mandarin to describe when someone makes a bad situation worse. In English the equivalent might be “adding fuel to the fire” when talking about something negative.

10. Закалка, pronounced “Zakalka” (Russian) - Quenching

This concept does not have a direct translation into English, but it depicts a popular Russian outlook on life. It refers to getting the most out of your body and mind by subjecting yourself to extreme activities - cold showers, barefoot walks in the snow, and wintry swims in ice-holes. The Russians believe that such activities improve a person’s outlook and productivity.

If you’re ready to spend some more time with any of the languages above, Fluent City is ready to welcome you this winter. Check out our courses, which are offered online and offline, for any level of learner.