out cold

Also, out for the count; out like a light. Unconscious; also, asleep. For example, He crashed into the wall and was out cold, or Willie punched him too hard, and he was out for the count or Don't call Jane; she's out like a light by ten every night. The adjective cold refers to the lack of heat in a dead body and has been used to mean “unconscious” since the second half of the 1800s. The first variant comes from boxing, where a fighter who is knocked down must get up before the referee counts to ten or be declared defeated; it dates from about 1930. The last variant alludes to turning out a light and dates from the first half of the 1900s.

Words Nearby out cold

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

How to use out cold in a sentence

  • Such a poncho would cost 20l., and would not only keep out cold, but would turn rain like a “macintosh.”

  • Its white summit stood out cold and bare against a bright blue cloudless sky, and the lake was of a deep, dazzling ultramarine.

  • Have we been out cold this long, or did we come to and walk back to here?

    Dave Dawson at Truk | Robert Sydney Bowen
  • He went off to his hotel-room and was out cold before his head had drifted down to its pillow.

    Operation: Outer Space | William Fitzgerald Jenkins