We often use "cool water". But can we use "cool water" or "cold water"? Which is correct? Examples:

  • I drink cool water only.
  • People always like cool water.

In the above examples, instead of the word cool, can we use cold?

  • 'Cool water' is water that's not hot, i.e., it could be at room temperature or cooler. 'Cold water' is water that is below room temperature or below comfort level. However, both 'cool drink' and 'cold drink' are used for the same beverage, though 'cool drink' is the alternative to 'hot drink' (hot beverage) and 'cold drink' is properly one that is chilled.
    – Kris
    Jul 3 '13 at 6:01
  • 1
    Do you just want general examples of how cool and cold are different?
    – Mitch
    Jul 3 '13 at 11:08
  • What is unclear about this question? Why the close vote? What is the correct answer?
    – Kris
    Jul 3 '13 at 11:25

For Bodies of Water, choose "cool"

When referencing a body of water like a swimming pool, pond, lake or even an ocean, use "cool." A "cold" body of water is dangerous and threatening. While a "cool" body of water is inviting and friendly; one might take a swim in a "cool lake," but not a "cold lake."

For Drinks, choose "cold"

In English (American, at least) you are more likely to see "cold" used in reference to drinks. If you search for "cold beverages" you'll find results like below. If you search for "cool beverages" you will have fewer results. (Google will actually return results for "cold beverages" because of its algorithms.)

The reason is that "cold" is considered close to ice; whereas "cool" is closer to "mild" or "warm" while still being cooler than either. If you are seeking refreshment, you are likely to want something "cold" instead of "cool."

Sample Advertisements

Ice Cold Beer

Ice Cold Beer

Ice Cold Cocacola

Ice Cold Drinks


You can use cold in the following sentence in place of cool

I drink cool water only.

People always like cool water.

Whether it is correct or not depends on the meaning and the context, cold implies a lower temperature than cool, that is, cold is colder than cool. So it would most likely be preferable to swim in cool water than cold water

There is a short thread about this Cool versus Cold - when to use the adjectives...

An example taken from there points out that a"cool person" is quite different to a "cold person"


English temperature terms are arrayed across the liquid range of water on a linear scale:

  •   freezing   •   cold   •   cool   •   tepid/lukewarm   •   warm   •   hot   •   boiling

The polar words at the negative and positive ends (freezing, boiling) refer to state changes that limit the interest of human participants, who can't survive either freezing or boiling, personally.

Only such polar terms can take the intensifier absolutely:

  • It's absolutely freezing/boiling out there.
  • *It's absolutely cold/cool/tepid/lukewarm/warm/hot out there.

Like all perceptual terms, these are relative to speaker, addressee, and context.
So there are no rules about "correctness".


As 'warm' is to 'hot', 'cool' is to 'cold'.

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