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I hear my mom say this all time:

Well doesn't that just frost your pickle?

I usually laugh because it sounds funny, but honestly I have no idea what it's really supposed to mean, in the sense that I don't really understand why "frost your pickle" makes sense as a phrase. She uses it to express a feeling of annoyance (I guess).

Can anyone identify the history/origin of this phrase? Why is the phrase used in this way?

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Too localised, imho. –  FumbleFingers May 11 '12 at 0:29
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I don't think this is too localized: animuson's mom might be the only person who says this particular phrase, but like tchrist points out, there is a whole class of phrases of the same ilk, and the meaning of those can be used to suss out the meaning of this one. That said, @animuson, any chance you could ask your mom where she got this phrase from, and what she means when she says it? –  Marthaª May 11 '12 at 1:51
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Found a recipe for frosted pickles. –  Callithumpian May 11 '12 at 3:50
    
Does it appear like this idiom is used mostly/ only by women? –  Kris May 11 '12 at 18:16
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2 Answers 2

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I found one use of the phrase on a Prince fan site's discussion of the Beastie Boys. This is from an 8/16/11 post from user Cerebus (quoted in full in honor of MCA):

Been a diehard fan since License To Ill, which is like, 25 years ago. Been listening to the Beastie Boys almost as long as I've been listening to Prince. I love them. I love that they've changed over the years but are still clearly the Beastie Boys.

However, while I can still get way into all the older stuff (especially Check Yo Head and Ill Communication), I find it much more difficult to really love the last two albums. I dug what To The 5 Burroughs was about and I enjoyed that they took the beats back to an early electro hip-hop sound, but I still don't think its a great album. The new album, for as long as it took to get it done (regardless of the health issues), didn't really frost my pickle. Its good, and I can feel the magic trying to creep in, but again, not great.

I'll always be a fan and I'll always support them (including going to live shows if they ever tour again), but I think my real deep love for them probably ended with Hello Nasty.

So here it's being used in a positive way.

I found the annoyance sense of the phrase at a Yahoo Answers question from a woman divorcing her husband and looking to sell his baseball card collection. This is the top-voted answer:

well, hell, if's revenge you want why bother trying to sell them, give em away and tell him you did, that ought to frost his pickle!!

Could either of these posters be your mom?

Edit-- Keep finding more:

-One thing which frosted my pickle was no internet,and no wireless.In 2011 this inexcusable

-I kept getting hassled by guys who thought they were smoooooooooooooth… their primary means of greeting females being to smack them on the butt. This really just frosted my pickle.

-I showed up for the meeting only to discover that it had been rescheduled. Now that really frosted my pickle!

I'd say the annoyance meaning wins out. Still no clue where it comes from, but it's definitely out there.

Edit #2:

After a little more looking around, I've found that the construction:

Well, don't that just frost your [fill in the blank]!

is a fairly common US colloquialism used to express annoyance or, more specifically, sympathy for someone being annoyed or vexed. In addition to pickles, the various things being frosted in these expressions include: flakes (after the cereal), balls (testicles), knuckles, feathers, asses, hides, and cakes.

I kept thinking this referred to frost as in damaged by cold, but this last one may hold a clue. These phrases could be a sarcastic reworking of the idiom

the frosting (icing) on the cake

by humorously emphasizing the unnecessary aspect of what has just happened. However, NOAD also has this informal definition of frost:

anger or annoy

such discrimination frosted her no end

So the question remains, is this informal use of frost a result of these colloquialisms or did frost carry this meaning before these colorful sayings were developed?

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If I may quote Liz Lemon: "No, that's not a thing, people don't say that."

She may have invented it herself, or heard it and liked it for its vivid imagery, but it doesn't turn up in Google Ngram Viewer, it's not on UrbanDictionary, and in fact the first Google result that turns up is this very page.

I suspect it means "doesn't that annoy you," as pickles aren't usually enjoyed frosted, and it is phrased similarly to expressions like get your goat or ruffle his feathers, but I suppose it would depend on context.

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I’ll bet you that we can come up with a whole bevy of colorful metaphors with this same basic meaning. For example, “corks my ass” or “screw the pooch” come to mind, but are somewhat annoying to search for. :) More seriously, they all seem to be of the form VERB DETERMINER NOUN, including your own examples. –  tchrist May 10 '12 at 23:29
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Well, Callithumpian above shows that people do say that. I suspect Google may not be as useful with this type of expression since its probably even more rarely written than it is spoken. –  Mark Beadles May 11 '12 at 10:58
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@MarkBeadles It does no good to fight against the deification of Google in these parts. People pretend it somehow validly represents actual speech, and will not abide contradiction or sense. It’s really quite depressing to watch. Even so, a simple glance through an OED entry for a given phrase almost always uncovers important literature references that the Google worshipers never even notice. –  tchrist May 11 '12 at 16:33
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