It’s Freezing Out There! Useful Cold Weather Vocabulary

thermometer - cold weather vocabularyAre you enjoying the cold snap? With the thermometer diving towards zero across the UK, it’s time to think about winter weather vocabulary. There are many ways to describe a cold day – certainly useful when living in a northern climate! From cool to chilly to freezing, whether the wind is breezy, blustery or gale-force – with or without a downpour – cold weather vocabulary is always handy at this time of year. Read on to explore the English vocabulary you need to talk about the cold weather.


Cold weather vocabulary 

Cold weather vocabulary often mixes up adjectives and nouns, while there are many standard expressions that are used all the time.

Cold weather can sometimes be a nuisance if it interferes with plans, but sometimes it can feel cosy if you are tucked up inside the warm house! It can feel Christmassy too and a bit of snow always encourages a festive atmosphere.

Read on to explore English cold weather vocabulary so you can deal with any cold weather situation this winter.


Words to describe cold weather

Cool (adj) – mildly cold (cool air can often be pleasantly refreshing)

Chilly (adj) – quite cold

Crisp (adj) – quite cold

Fresh – quite cold

Brisk – cold

Freezing (adj) – very cold

Biting (adj) – extremely cold (e.g. there’s a biting wind)

Bitter (adj) – extremely cold (e.g. it’s bitterly cold)

Harsh – very cold and unpleasant

a cold snap – a period of cold weather

a cold spell – a period of cold weather

Bleak – cold and grey, depressing weather without colour or brightness

Snowy (adj) – when it is snowing

Sleet (noun) – a combination of snow and rain

Frost (noun) – small, sparkling ice crystals that form a thin layer on objects when the temperature is freezing

Icicle (noun) – a pointed column of ice that forms when dripping water freezes.

icicles - cold weather vocabulary

Vocabulary to describe wind and rain

Winter weather can also mean lots of rain and wind. Here are some useful weather words for rainy or windy days:

drizzle (noun) / drizzly (adj)  – very light rain

pouring (verb / adj) – raining very heavily

a downpour (noun) –  a short time of very heavy rain

a shower (noun) – a short time of light rain

spitting (verb) – just starting to rain


a breeze (noun ) / breezy (adj) – a light wind, which can be pleasantly refreshing

blowy (adj) – windy

blustery (adj) – very windy, often in short and sudden bursts of wind

high winds – very strong winds

North/South/West/East wind – this refers to the direction the wind is blowing from

slush (noun) – when snow starts to melt and turns muddy and ‘slushy’

thaw / melt (verb) – when the snow /ice starts to turn back to water and disappear into the ground

snowing with umbrella - cold weather vocabulary

a blizzard (noun) – a snow storm

a storm (noun) / stormy (adj) – very rainy and windy, often with thunder and lightning

a gale (noun) / gale force winds – very strong winds

a hurricane (noun) – a severe storm that is usually destructive


Cold weather vocabulary in conversation

To ask about the weather you can say:

What’s the weather like?

What’s it like out there?

What’s it like outside?

Is it cold out?

Is it raining?

Is it still snowing?

Is it windy?

Did you get caught in the rain?

Should I take my brolly? (‘brolly’ is British slang for umbrella)

To talk about cold weather you can say:

‘It’s a bit cold out there’ / ‘It’s cold out’ (often said just after getting in, shutting the door and rubbing your hands together!)

‘It’s a bit chilly today, isn’t it?’

‘It’s a bit breezy’ / ‘It’s a bit blowy’ – windy

‘It’s a bit nippy’  – colloquial English, quite cold

‘It’s brisk’  – it is cold but also refreshing

‘It’s bitter outside’  – very cold

‘There’s a bite in the air’ / ‘There’s a nip in the air’ / ‘There’s a chill in the air’

‘It’s colder than it looks’  – often said when it is sunny outside, but still cold

‘We’re going through a cold snap’

‘There was a cold spell last week’

‘It’s raining cats and dogs!’ – very heavy rain

‘I was caught in the rain’ it started raining while you were out

‘I got soaked to the skin!’ – to get very wet from the rain

‘There is a blanket of snow on the ground’ – a layer of snow has settled on the ground

‘The snow is settling’ – the snow is staying on the ground without melting

windy with umbrella - cold weather vocabulary

Now you have learned some useful cold weather vocabulary, why not explore hot weather vocabulary for a contrasting weather lesson?

Share your thoughts on cold weather vocabulary

Have you used any of these cold weather phrases recently?

Do you find any cold weather words interesting or strange?

What slang expressions have you heard used to talk about the cold weather?

Is it freezing now where you are?


2 thoughts on “It’s Freezing Out There! Useful Cold Weather Vocabulary

  1. Hi Lionel, yes ‘it’s tipping it down’ is a common idiom that means it is raining heavily. People also say ‘throwing it down’ and in less formal circles sometimes you might hear the rude expression ‘it’s pissing down’! (do not use this last expression in polite company!) Have readers heard any more?

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