What does the idiom "get cold feet" mean?

get cold feet is an idiom used by many writers. When idioms are used in the right place, they open the doors of effective communication and increase your descriptive power. In this way, you will be better understood. The meaning of the expression get cold feet is also remarkable in this respect.

Meaning of "get cold feet"


The phrase "get cold feet" is an idiom. It is used to describe a feeling of fear or uncertainty that an individual may feel before making an important or difficult decision. It implies that the person is getting anxious or scared, and may want to avoid or delay making a decision. It can also mean to back out of something, or to suddenly become hesitant or doubtful about taking a course of action.


The exact origin of the phrase is unknown, but it is believed to have derived from the idea that when one is afraid, their body temperature decreases, leading to a feeling of coldness in their feet. This phrase is even found in the bible, in the book of Ecclesiastes: “The wise man’s feet are steady; the fool will be filled with fear and hurry away.” Thus, the phrase may have been around for thousands of years. It has been in common usage in the English language since the late 1800s, and is still used today.


This phrase is used to express a feeling of fear or anxiety before making a decision. It is often used in reference to a particular event or situation. For example, one might say, “I was about to buy the tickets for the show, but I got cold feet.” It can be used to describe both the feeling of fear and the decision to avoid or delay a course of action. It is sometimes used in a humorous context, such as when one person jokingly suggests doing something risky and another person says they have “cold feet” in response.

Example Sentences

  • I was so close to asking her out, but I got cold feet at the last minute.
  • He was all set to take the job, but then he got cold feet and decided not to.
  • She was scared of taking the test, but she eventually worked up the courage and overcame her cold feet.
  • We were about to go bungee jumping, but everyone got cold feet and decided to go for a less daring activity instead.

The meanings of the words in the "get cold feet" idiom

The Global Spread of English Idioms

As English has become a global language, its idioms have spread far beyond the borders of the UK and USA. For instance, the idiom "beat around the bush" has equivalents in many other languages, such as "tourner autour du pot" in French and "dar vueltas al asunto" in Spanish. Meanwhile, other idioms have been adapted for local contexts, such as the Russian idiom "?? ???? ???????" (ne svoya rubashka), which translates to "not one's own shirt," meaning to be in an uncomfortable or unfamiliar situation.


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