cold shoulder

[ kohld-shohl-der ]
/ ˈkoʊld ˈʃoʊl dər /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: cold shoulder / cold-shouldered / cold-shouldering / cold-shoulders on Thesaurus.com


a show of deliberate indifference or disregard.


Also cold-shoul·der . (of a sleeved garment) having a portion of each sleeve cut out, leaving the shoulders exposed: cold shoulder tops for everyday wear;a cold-shoulder dress.



Apostrophes can be tricky; prove you know the difference between it’s and its in this crafty quiz!
Question 1 of 12
On the farm, the feed for chicks is significantly different from the roosters’; ______ not even comparable.

Origin of cold shoulder

First recorded in 1810–20; def. 2 was first recorded in 2010–15

Definition for cold shoulder (2 of 2)

[ kohld-shohl-der ]
/ ˈkoʊldˈʃoʊl dər /

verb (used with object)

to snub; show indifference to.

Origin of cold-shoulder

First recorded in 1810–20
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

British Dictionary definitions for cold shoulder

cold shoulder
/ informal /


the cold shoulder a show of indifference; a slight

verb cold-shoulder (tr)

to treat with indifference
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

Cultural definitions for cold shoulder

cold shoulder

To “give someone the cold shoulder” is to ignore someone deliberately: “At the party, Carl tried to talk to Suzanne, but she gave him the cold shoulder.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with cold shoulder

cold shoulder

Deliberate coldness or disregard, a slight or snub. For example, When I said hello to her in the library, she gave me the cold shoulder and walked away. This term, which first appeared in writings by Sir Walter Scott and others, supposedly alludes to the custom of welcoming a desired guest with a meal of roasted meat, but serving only a cold shoulder of beef or lamb—a far inferior dish—to those who outstayed their welcome. [Early 1800s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
What's This Word?