I thought this was the common way of saying "temporarily stop attending university" (for a semester). And Google confirmed that.

However, many native English speakers didn't understand the following sentence:

Since I’d frozen the semester, I didn’t have much going on.

Is to "freeze" the semester a common phrase? If not, what's a better alternative?

  • 2
    Never heard of such thing over here. – tchrist Sep 28 '15 at 11:13
  • Note that "to 'freeze' the semester", in your title, is not at all the same as "to freeze the semester" in your example. Also, many countries have university terms, and would not recognixe the word semester. – Tim Lymington supports Monica Sep 28 '15 at 11:36
  • @TimLymington Okay, I fixed that. – janoChen Sep 28 '15 at 11:37

Personally, I would understand what you meant, albeit odd.

Because the most common definition of freeze is, "to become congealed into ice by cold", we associate the words freeze, freezing, and frozen with cold or ice.

However, in nearly every action movie with a cop, if the cop is wanting the criminal to stop moving, they yell, "Freeze!", where here it means, "to become fixed or motionless".

So grammatically, you are correct. However, because you're using the word in an uncommon manner, it leads to confusion. Especially since "to freeze", refers to the idea that you have actually frozen something into ice, "freezing a semester" seems unusual, as a semester isn't a physical object that can be made cold, or frozen.

Synonyms for what you're looking for include: paused, ceased, and suspended.

However, semester itself isn't something that someone typically has control over (which can add another layer of confusion). So saying that you've frozen, or stopped, a semester, means that you used your god-like powers to prematurely end the semester.

You might be better off just saying, "Since the semester ended, I didn't have much going on.", or "I didn't have much going on, after the semester ended".

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