3

What's the meaning of "hit somebody like a bucket of cold water"? I couldn't find this idiom (?) in my dictionaries; I just found "cold water" means "disapproval". But I don't think it would have the same meaning in this idiom.

Examples:

  • The bad news hit me like a bucket of cold water.

  • My presence will hit them like a bucket of cold water.

  • 1
    How do you feel when a bucket of cold water is poured upon you? – user140086 Nov 20 '15 at 18:02
  • I would feel shocked or it might make me more alert. – user144908 Nov 20 '15 at 18:12
  • This idiom probably comes from last year's Ice Bucket Challenge. – Joe Dark Nov 20 '15 at 18:12
  • Yes, that's how you would feel. – user140086 Nov 20 '15 at 18:17
  • @Joe Dark Or perhaps not {Google Ngrams}. Assuming we know when (if) it achieved the status of an idiom. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 20 '15 at 18:18
2

"It was a bucket of cold water on my feelings" can be considered a figure of speech. Your sentence "it hit me like a bucket of cold water", however, stands literally for what it is: a comparison, you felt as if someone had thrown a bucket of cold water on you. Using "like" changed a figure of speech into a comparison.

  • I don't agree. Similes are figures of speech. 'It hit me like a bucket ['s prior contents] of cold water' obviously doesn't imply 'exactly like' that water. That would require a bucketful of equally cold, dense, wetting, viscous, colourless, odourless ... fluid hitting the person. There are one or more points of similarity in a simile (and an awful lot of differences). 'He's like a tiger.' – Edwin Ashworth Nov 20 '15 at 18:13
  • Yes, I think it is the answer. – user140086 Nov 20 '15 at 18:24
1

The meaning is similar to the saying "throw cold water on" and means that the news surprised and discouraged you, as something you probably didn't expect:

  • To express misgivings about or disapproval of; discourage.

The Free Dictionary

  • 1
    Yes, cold water is cold and surprising. :) – user140086 Nov 20 '15 at 18:25
  • Incorrect. Even winning the Nobel Prize could hit you "like a bucket of cold water" if you were in a literal or figurative stupor when the water hit. The expression has nothing to do with "cold water" as a metaphor for disapproval or discouragement. – Hot Licks Nov 20 '15 at 20:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.