In French, we call people that are very sensitive to cold "frileux" (for a man) and "frileuse" (for a woman). This word can be used as an adjective or a noun.

For example, if a group of people is standing outside during fall season, all wearing equally warm clothes, and one is shivering, French Quebecers would likely comment with something like "Tu es donc bien frileux!", which means "You are such a cold person." The person could then confirm the hypothesis or reject it, explaining that he or she is sick or very tired, for example.

I don't like saying "I am a cold person." when I mean "Je suis frileuse." because it sounds like I say that I'm unfriendly, unpleasant or not compassionate. Is there a specific word or a better expression to express this idea?

  • The only definition I am finding doesn't fit the usage, but I have heard such people referred to as "thin-skinned". Normally people use this to refer to someone easily insulted, however (in a literal sense) thin-skinned people do get cold easier tiabuilder.blogspot.com/2013/01/… The other term I have heard is "cold-blooded" or figuratively "anemic"
    – Yeshe
    Aug 26, 2015 at 3:24
  • I've asked anglophone friends, but they don't know. Even the Smurfs didn't know how to call their Schtroumpf Frileux in English, so they just named him "Sneezy Smurf" and "Chilly Smurf". I thought of chilly, but this is rather a temporary state than a permanent characteristic. If there is an equivalent to "frileux" in English, it must be very old or refined and used only by experts, but I'd gladly try popularize it! This word is essential in Quebec! !Smurf image
    – Myriam
    Aug 26, 2015 at 3:35
  • @Yeshe doesn't cold-blooded describe something cruel (a cold-blooded murder) or animals such as snakes? I like "thin-skinned". Do you know if the average anglophone would understand what I mean and not believe I am just making up an expression or directly translating a French expression (which happened to me when using unusual or topic-specific words because I didn't know the more generic or popular word).
    – Myriam
    Aug 26, 2015 at 3:45
  • it does also refer to that, it is even more typically used that way actually. I think a fair number of people would understand the "thin-skinned" term. I don't think there is a very common term for this. I had never heard of "Nesh" (great word), there isn't normally a lot of call for such a term.
    – Yeshe
    Aug 26, 2015 at 4:28

5 Answers 5


Nesh even has a page of its own on Wikipedia


I've only ever heard nesh used to describe people and animals as 'intolerant of cold, or wintry weather.'
Wikipedia says that in some dialects anyone who needs extra cosseting of any sort can be described as 'nesh'.


"Cold-blooded", although often used figuratively to mean cruel, "heartles", etc, can also be used literally to refer to a person's tendency to have cold skin, and to become chilled easily.

My wife was like that. I was the warm one. I would try to warm her up with my body heat, but it took a long time. I called her a heat sink.


There is a saying, probably meant to cheer those who might be embarrassed at being cold all the time (especially at having a cold, "clammy" handshake):

  • "Cold hands, warm heart."

I have struggled with both of these problems for years, because your adjective describes me to a T, and because I have been frustrated by the lack of a single word for this in English (having been accustomed to describing myself with the Spanish equivalent, friolento/a).

Here's the solution I eventually worked out:

I hope you don't mind if I wear my jacket in the restaurant. I get cold easily.


Let me just get my hat and mittens on before we go out. I'm one of those people who get cold easily.

There's one more possibility, which might help get the idea across, even if it's not a completely accurate medical explanation:

I have poor circulation.

When I use one of these three phrases, the person I'm talking to generally gets it. The other words proposed here so far (except shivery type) wouldn't help in actual communication situations with ordinary people.

(I think shivery type gets the idea across, but it's not the self-image I personally would want to project.)


Cryophobic, "afraid of cold". There is also shivery type.


I've always heard that when someone is sensitive to cold temperatures, they are "cold-natured", meaning that is the nature of their body, or how they describe their physical well-being: colder than most people.


nature noun (CHARACTER)

The character of a person, or the characteristics a person is born with:

She’s always had a sunny nature.

She is by nature a gentle soul.


Q1: What is a cold-natured person?

A1: A cold-natured person is someone who more often feels cold than warm. Cold-natured people tend to be cold even when others around them are warm or when they experience higher temperatures.

A2: A 2004 study done by researchers at the University of Florida published in the Journal of Neuroscience provides evidence that some nerve cells react to things other than temperature when creating the sensation of being cold. Biochemicals, hormones and proteins in a cold-natured person's body play a role in determining a cold feeling despite outside temperatures feeling warm. This explains why factors such as depression or menopause sometimes play a role in a person being cold- or hot-natured.

Cold-blooded perhaps used to be the right word, but not anymore, thanks to the "slasher-movie" genre and endless news stories describing cold-blooded killings. And cold-hearted implies a cruel, or at least indifferent feeling toward others, not as evil-sounding as cold-blooded, but it's certainly no term anyone would want used to describe themselves.

"I have an aunt who is cold-natured. She is by no means cruel or indifferent, and certainly not evil. She's just cold -- especially in the wintertime."

Like-wise, if someone is able to withstand the cold better than most, such as wearing a t-shirt in cold weather, they are always called, "warm-natured", or "hot-natured".

I live in the eastern part of the U.S., and this expression is commonly used here to describe people who are more sensitive to heat or cold. Is this not a common expression everywhere? I hear it all the time.

Well, I hope this helps you make a decision on how to describe yourself. Good luck to you.

I've come to the conclusion long ago that our language is not written in stone, nor is it perfect by any means yet. Use it how you want to use it; the rest of the world will catch up.

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