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Sometimes relations between nations can be considered to be "cooling"? What does this mean?

I can't tell if it means:

  1. The relationship is getting better because it's "cooling-off" from "hot" threats.

    or

  2. The relationship is getting worse because the nations are becoming cool towards each other, i.e. cool in the sense that they have "cold" hearts.

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    In the second example, the word should be "cold" in "becoming cold towards each other", not cool. Cool here negates the meaning you want to imply. – Manish Giri Jul 28 '14 at 13:22
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    Dark - that is completely wrong. in example two the phrase: nations are becoming cool towards each other is perfectly normal, and you can google it anywhere. (Not just nations -- people, whatever.) – Fattie Jul 28 '14 at 14:36
  • I'd say when used literally with " .. relations", it does mean "getting worse". (Not unlike "a chilling effect" ... that always means getting worse.) – Fattie Jul 28 '14 at 14:45
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Cooling relations generally refer to relationships that are somehow deteriorating from a previous, probably, more positive state. It may imply also the opposite if the starting point is a negative one.

Cooling off is generally used to express the concept of losing intensity, which can be both positive or negative according to the context. In you first sentence 'cooling off' has positive implications because it implies less tensions, less threats.

to cool off:

  • cool off - lose intensity; "His enthusiasm cooled considerably"

  • cool down, cool.

Source:http://www.thefreedictionary.com/cool+off

  • What if the current hostilities in the Ukraine were to de-escalate? Would such a cooling off be a deterioration? I think there is a distinction between cooling and cooling off and whether that is positive or negative depends on context. – bib Jul 28 '14 at 13:33
  • Cooling off is routinely used in discussions of confrontation, both in labor negotiations and in politics. This ngram links to a number of such usages. – bib Jul 28 '14 at 13:53
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    the fact is it can be used both ways!. the phrase "cooling relations" tends to mean "chilly" - getting worse. (As in "why are you treating me coolly today?") on the other hand you could say the "problems are cooling off" or talk of a "cooling off period," say. – Fattie Jul 28 '14 at 14:44

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