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In this blog post, we’ll be discussing the ways of talking about winter in English.

Talking about seasons is a very common small talk topic, so I suppose it is a perfect time to look at some winter vocabulary since the winter started in most parts of the northern hemisphere. Although winters are no longer as they used to be due to climate change,  we can only hope for the best and put a lot of effort into being environmentally friendly residents of our one and only planet.

Winter weather

It is usually cold in winter so we can say that it is a cold day and that it is getting colder, they predicted. If it is very cold, we say that it’s freezing

It is also windy most of the time, and the winter wind can be brisk, howling, strong, swirling, etc.

For example:

  • The brisk winter wind was cold and sharp, but we continued walking.
  • The howling wind threatened to knock them off their feet.
  • A strong wind was blowing continually, it rained heavily, which indicated that the storm was coming.
  • Looking at the swirling wind and heavy snow through the window, Mary and Jill decided to stay at home. 

Winter can be harsh, severe, dry, wet, mild, long, early, late, etc.

  • It was a long harsh winter that occurred last year in the country. 
  • People are not supposed to drink alcoholic beverages to get warm during severe weather conditions.
  • The island climate is continental, with dry winters alternating with very hot summers.
  • The Mediterranean climate brings dry and hot summers and mild and wet winters.
  • Winter came early/late this year.
 Talking about Winter in English
Talking about Winter in English

More winter weather vocabulary

Winter chill

Meaning: a feeling of coldness.

  • Although she was in a warm room, Megan could feel a winter chill through the window.

To shiver

Meaning: to shake slightly because of cold.

  • The dog was wet and shivering on a cold winter night.

Numb 

Meaning: unable to feel a part of your body.

  • It was so cold that her toes went totally numb.

Frostbite

Meaning: severe body tissues injury caused by freezing.

  • When the scientists got back from their expedition to Antarctica, some of them had first-degree frostbite.

Blizzard

Meaning: heavy snow and strong wind, reduced visibility.

  • They predicted a blizzard for the weekend, so I decided to stay at home. 

Sleet

Meaning: ice rain.

  • Cold icy sleet covered everything so it was dangerous to go anywhere.

Gust of wind

Meaning: a sudden strong wind.

  • While Tom was reading in the park, a gust of wind suddenly blew his newspaper away.

You can find more about extreme winter weather here.

Winter sports and activities

Cold weather and winter conditions shouldn’t stop you from being active and doing sports. Winter sports are usually performed on snow or ice. You may not be able to go running or cycling in the wintertime, but you should definitely try skiing or snowboarding. If there is an ice rink where you live, why don’t you try ice skating

  • Ryan enjoys cross-country skiing every winter.
  • We should go snowboarding this winter.
  • Look! Those children are sledging down the street.
  • ‘Let’s have a snowball fight!’ ‘Why don’t we make a snowman. Look how beautiful the snow is.’
  • Sean’s brother is a famous ice hockey player. 
 Talking about Winter in English
Talking about Winter in English
The dead of winter

Meaning: the coldest part of winter, usually in the middle of it.

For example:

  • It was the dead of winter and I just didn’t feel like getting out of bed.
  • They moved to Spain because they couldn’t stand the dead of winter in England.
A snowball chance in hell

Meaning: impossible to succeed.

For example:

  • Unless he starts exercising soon, he doesn’t have a snowball chance in hell to enter the competition.
  • There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that we can meet the deadline. 
Break the ice

Meaning: to begin a conversation with someone you’ve just met.

For example:

  • English people usually break the ice by talking about the weather.
  • They always organize some activities at conferences to help people break the ice.
Snowed under

Meaning: to have too much work to do.

For example:

  • Sorry, I can’t go skiing with you this weekend. I’m snowed under with work.
  • Due to lack of staff, my boss keeps snowing me under with too much work. I think I’ll change jobs.
Get cold feet

Meaning: to suddenly become afraid of doing something you’d planned before.

For example:

  • They planned to get married but Brian got cold feet a week before the wedding and suddenly decided to move abroad.
  • Mary’s performance was supposed to be held yesterday. However, she got cold feet and didn’t perform.
Put something on ice

Meaning:  to postpone something for some later time.

For example:

  • We’re putting on ice our plans to buy a house for the time being. 
  • We’ll put this project on ice during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The snowball effect

Meaning: a process of continuous growth in size, importance, etc.

For example:

  • The longer you study a language, the more fluent you become. It’s a snowball effect.
  • The rumours about his early retirement spread quickly, with a kind of snowball effect.
Be/walking/skating on thin ice

Meaning: to be in a dangerous and risky situation.

For example:

  • If you don’t stop spending your money so foolishly, you will soon be walking on thin ice.
  • Steve had an argument with his mother-in-law recently so he’s been skating on thin ice with his wife ever since.
The tip of the iceberg

Meaning: only a small part of a problem is visible, while the rest is hidden.

For example:

  • Animal extinction is just the tip of the iceberg among the things caused by global warming.
  • Students’ demonstrations are just the tip of the iceberg. The problems in this country are much bigger.
 Talking about Winter in English
Talking about Winter in English

Let’s talk about winter! Here are some conversation questions about winter to help you develop a discussion with your English-speaking friend:

  1. What is the winter like where you live? Is it harsh, dry, cold, wet…?
  2. Do you prefer the winter holiday or the summer holiday?
  3. Which winter activities and sports do you enjoy?
  4. What is your favourite winter food?
  5. Have you ever been caught in a snowstorm or a blizzard?
  6. What is the coldest weather you have ever experienced?
  7. Have you ever been so cold that parts of your body went numb?
  8. Have you made a snowman when you were a child?
  9. Do you fancy white Christmas?
  10. What is the coldest month where you live?
 Talking about Winter in English
Talking about Winter in English

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