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90s Slang You Should Know


[thaw] /θɔ/
verb (used without object)
to pass or change from a frozen to a liquid or semiliquid state; melt.
to be freed from the physical effect of frost or extreme cold (sometimes followed by out):
Sit by the fire and thaw out.
(of the weather) to become warm enough to melt ice and snow:
It will probably thaw today.
to become less formal, reserved, or aloof:
He thawed at their kindness.
to become less hostile or tense:
International relations thawed.
verb (used with object)
to cause to change from a frozen to a liquid or semiliquid state; melt.
to free from the physical effect of frost or extreme cold; bring to a more normal temperature, especially to room temperature:
I took the steaks out of the freezer and thawed them.
to make less cold, formal, or reserved.
to make less tense or hostile.
the act or process of thawing.
the act or fact of becoming less formal, reserved, or aloof.
a reduction or easing in tension or hostility.
(in winter or in areas where freezing weather is the norm) weather warm enough to melt ice and snow.
a period of such weather:
We had a two-week thaw in January.
the thaw, the first day in the year when ice in harbors, rivers, etc., breaks up or loosens enough to begin flowing to the sea, allowing navigation:
The Anchorage thaw came on May 18th.
Origin of thaw
before 1000; (v.) Middle English thawen, Old English thawian; cognate with Dutch dooien, Old Norse theyja; (noun) late Middle English, derivative of the v.
Related forms
thawless, adjective
rethaw, verb
underthaw, verb
unthawed, adjective
unthawing, adjective
1. See melt1 . 2, 8. warm.
1. freeze. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for thaw
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Yet her stiffness began to thaw under Lynn's genial frankness as a light frost melts under a warm sun.

    Oldfield Nancy Huston Banks
  • The thaw arrived next day, and it proved to be the beginning of spring.

    Forest Neighbors William Davenport Hulbert
  • With the thaw there came a groom every afternoon with a sleek and beautiful mare in case Miss McIntyre should care to ride.

    The Doings Of Raffles Haw Arthur Conan Doyle
  • He stood there looking out; and all round him was the eternal drip, drip of the thaw.

    Bob, Son of Battle Alfred Ollivant
  • He was out again in a moment; and there he stood, cold and dripping like an icicle in a January thaw.

British Dictionary definitions for thaw


to melt or cause to melt from a solid frozen state: the snow thawed
to become or cause to become unfrozen; defrost
(intransitive) to be the case that the ice or snow is melting: it's thawing fast
(intransitive) to become more sociable, relaxed, or friendly
the act or process of thawing
a spell of relatively warm weather, causing snow or ice to melt
an increase in relaxation or friendliness
Derived Forms
thawer, noun
thawless, adjective
Word Origin
Old English thawian; related to Old High German douwen to thaw, Old Norse theyja to thaw, Latin tabēre to waste away
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 thaw

Old English þawian, from Proto-Germanic *thawojanan (cf. Old Norse þeyja, Middle Low German doien, Dutch dooien, Old High German douwen, German tauen "to thaw"), from PIE root *ta- "to melt, dissolve" (cf. Sanskrit toyam "water," Ossetic thayun "to thaw," Welsh tawadd "molten," Doric Greek takein "to melt, waste, be consumed," Old Irish tam "pestilence," Latin tabes "a melting, wasting away, putrefaction," Old Church Slavonic tajati "to melt"). Related: Thawed; thawing.


c.1400, from thaw (v.). Figurative sense of "relaxation of political harshness or hostility" is recorded from 1950, an image from the "Cold War."


c.1400, from thaw (v.). Figurative sense of "relaxation of political harshness or hostility" is recorded from 1950, an image from the "Cold War."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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