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[freez-uhp] /ˈfrizˌʌp/
noun, Informal.
a freezing over of a body of water in an area.
a period of below-freezing temperatures.
the condition of being immobilized or inoperative through freezing:
car engine freeze-up in winter.
Origin of freeze-up
1875-80, Americanism; noun use of verb phrase freeze up


[freez] /friz/
verb (used without object), froze, frozen, freezing.
to become hardened into ice or into a solid body; change from the liquid to the solid state by loss of heat.
to become hard or stiffened because of loss of heat, as objects containing moisture:
Meat will freeze in a few hours.
to suffer the effects of intense cold; have the sensation of extreme cold:
We sat there freezing until the heat came on.
to be of the degree of cold at which water freezes:
It may freeze tonight.
to lose warmth of feeling; be stunned or chilled with fear, shock, etc.:
My heart froze when she told me the news.
to become immobilized through fear, shock, etc.:
When he got in front of the audience he froze.
to stop suddenly and remain motionless; halt:
I froze in my tracks.
to become obstructed by the formation of ice, as pipes:
Our basement water pipes often freeze in winter.
to die or be injured because of frost or cold.
(of a screw, nail, or the like) to become rigidly fixed in place, as from rust or dirt.
to become fixed to something by or as if by the action of frost.
to become unfriendly, secretive, or aloof (often followed by up):
He froze at such a personal question.
to become temporarily inoperable; cease to function (often followed by up):
The new software made my computer freeze.
verb (used with object), froze, frozen, freezing.
to harden into ice; change from a fluid to a solid form by loss of heat; congeal.
to form ice on the surface of (a river, pond, etc.).
to harden or stiffen (an object containing moisture) by cold.
to quick-freeze.
to subject to freezing temperature; place in a freezer or in the freezing compartment of a refrigerator.
to cause to suffer the effects of intense cold; produce the sensation of extreme cold in.
to cause to lose warmth as if by cold; chill with fear; dampen the enthusiasm of.
to cause (a person or animal) to become fixed through fright, alarm, shock, etc.:
Terror froze him to the steering wheel.
to kill by frost or cold:
A late snow froze the buds.
to fix fast with ice:
a sled frozen to a sidewalk.
to obstruct or close (a pipe or the like) by the formation of ice:
The storm had frozen the hydrant.
to fix (rents, prices, etc.) at a specific amount, usually by government order.
to stop or limit production, use, or development of:
an agreement to freeze nuclear weapons.
Finance. to render impossible of liquidation or collection:
Bank loans are frozen in business depressions.
Surgery. to render part of the body insensitive to pain or slower in its function by artificial means.
  1. Canasta. to play a wild card on (the discard pile) so as to make it frozen.
  2. Poker. to eliminate (other players) in a game of freezeout.
to photograph (a moving subject) at a shutter speed fast enough to produce an unblurred, seemingly motionless image.
Movies. to stop by means of a freeze-frame mechanism:
You can freeze the action at any point.
Sports. to maintain possession of (a ball or puck) for as long as possible, usually without trying to score, thereby reducing the opponent's opportunities for scoring.
Ice Hockey. to hold (a puck) against the boards with the skates or stick, causing play to stop and forcing a face-off.
the act of freezing; state of being frozen.
Also called ice-up. Meteorology. a widespread occurrence of temperatures below 32°F (0°C) persisting for at least several days:
A freeze is expected in the coastal areas.
a frost.
a legislative action, especially in time of national emergency, to control prices, rents, production, etc.:
The government put a freeze on new construction.
a decision by one or more nations to stop or limit production or development of weapons, especially nuclear weapons.
Verb phrases
freeze on/onto, Informal. to adhere closely to; hold on; seize.
freeze out, to exclude or compel (somebody) to withdraw from membership, acceptance, a position of influence or advantage, etc., by cold treatment or severe competition.
freeze over, to coat or become coated with ice:
The lake freezes over for several months each year.
before 1000; (v.) Middle English fresen, Old English frēosan; cognate with Middle Low German vrēsen, Old Norse frjōsa, Old High German friosan (German frieren); (noun) late Middle English frese, derivative of the v.
Related forms
freezable, adjective
freezability, noun
defreeze, verb (used with object), defroze, defrozen, defreezing.
nonfreezable, adjective
postfreeze, adjective
prefreeze, verb (used with object), prefroze, prefrozen, prefreezing.
refreezable, adjective
refreeze, verb, refroze, refrozen, refreezing.
unfreezable, adjective
Can be confused
freeze, frieze. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for freeze-up
Historical Examples
  • There was nothing whatever to read in the cabin, and they had been there since the freeze-up!

  • That the freeze-up might come any day was patent, and delays of safety were no longer considered.

    The Red One Jack London
  • I haven't been shooting any since the freeze-up because they can't do any great damage.

    Swamp Cat James Arthur Kjelgaard
  • The last river boat before the freeze-up had long since gone.

    The Yukon Trail

    William MacLeod Raine
  • Gold-seekers who made in before the freeze-up carried the news of his coming.

    The Faith of Men Jack London
  • Last fall, before the freeze-up, him an' me was headin' for camp about twilight.

    The Turtles of Tasman Jack London
  • In Dawson City a thousand men, with dog-teams, were waiting the freeze-up to come out over the ice.

    The Red One Jack London
  • It is only after the freeze-up that the surfaces of the lakes and rivers supply this desideratum.

  • They were getting in from the seal hunt ahead of the freeze-up, and he was to reach home none the worse for his adventure.

    Bobby of the Labrador Dillon Wallace
  • We started for the Klondike in the fall rush of 1897, and we started too late to get over Chilcoot Pass before the freeze-up.

    Lost Face Jack London
British Dictionary definitions for freeze-up


noun (informal)
a period of freezing or extremely cold weather
(US & Canadian)
  1. the freezing of lakes, rivers, and topsoil in autumn or early winter
  2. the time of year when this occurs


verb freezes, freezing, froze (frəʊz), frozen (ˈfrəʊzən)
to change (a liquid) into a solid as a result of a reduction in temperature, or (of a liquid) to solidify in this way, esp to convert or be converted into ice
when intr, sometimes foll by over or up. to cover, clog, or harden with ice, or become so covered, clogged, or hardened: the lake froze over last week
to fix fast or become fixed (to something) because of the action of frost
(transitive) to preserve (food) by subjection to extreme cold, as in a freezer
to feel or cause to feel the sensation or effects of extreme cold
to die or cause to die of frost or extreme cold
to become or cause to become paralysed, fixed, or motionless, esp through fear, shock, etc: he froze in his tracks
(transitive) to cause (moving film) to stop at a particular frame
to decrease or cause to decrease in animation or vigour
to make or become formal, haughty, etc, in manner
(transitive) to fix (prices, incomes, etc) at a particular level, usually by government direction
(transitive) to forbid by law the exchange, liquidation, or collection of (loans, assets, etc)
(transitive) to prohibit the manufacture, sale, or use of (something specified)
(transitive) to stop (a process) at a particular stage of development
(transitive) (informal) to render (tissue or a part of the body) insensitive, as by the application or injection of a local anaesthetic
(informal, mainly US) (intransitive) foll by onto. to cling
the act of freezing or state of being frozen
(meteorol) a spell of temperatures below freezing point, usually over a wide area
the fixing of incomes, prices, etc, by legislation
another word for frost
sentence substitute
(mainly US) a command to stop still instantly or risk being shot
Derived Forms
freezable, adjective
Word Origin
Old English frēosan; related to Old Norse frjōsa, Old High German friosan, Latin prūrīre to itch; see frost
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for freeze-up



Old English freosan "turn to ice" (class II strong verb; past tense freas, past participle froren), from Proto-Germanic *freusanan (cf. Old Norse frjosa, Old High German friosan, German frieren "to freeze," Gothic frius "frost"), from Proto-Germanic *freus-, equivalent to PIE root *preus- "to freeze," also "to burn" (cf. Sanskrit prusva, Latin pruina "hoarfrost," Welsh rhew "frost," Sanskrit prustah "burnt," Albanian prus "burning coals," Latin pruna "a live coal").

Transitive sense first recorded 14c., figurative sense c.1400. Meaning "become rigid or motionless" attested by 1720. Sense of "fix at a certain level, make non-transactable" is 1922. Freeze frame is from 1960, originally "a briefly Frozen Shot after the Jingle to allow ample time for Change over at the end of a T.V. 'Commercial.' " ["ABC of Film & TV," 1960].



c.1400, from freeze (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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freeze-up in Medicine

freeze (frēz)
v. froze (frōz), fro·zen (frō'zən), freez·ing, freez·es

  1. To pass from the liquid to the solid state by loss of heat.

  2. To make or become congealed, stiffened, or hardened by exposure to cold.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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freeze-up in Science
To change from a liquid to a solid state by cooling or being cooled to the freezing point.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for freeze-up



A stopping of change, esp in various monetary matters: a freeze on profits/ nuclear freeze (1930s+)


  1. : The government denies it wants to freeze interest rates
  2. To stay or become motionless: The cop hollered to him to freeze right there/ Your best bet is to freeze and wait. You can't get away (1848+)
  3. To treat someone with deliberate hauteur; snub; cut; PUT THE FREEZE ON someone: Next time she froze me mercilessly (1861+)
  4. To inspire terror: His scream froze me (1607+)
  5. (also freeze up) To become immobile and ineffective from fear; clank, panic: The lifeguard should have dived in for the boy, but she froze (1970s+)

Related Terms

in cold storage

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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