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I can't seem to find a non-awkward way of expressing this sort of sentiment: suppose you want to tell a friend about some time you were really, really cold, but it wasn't the coldest you've ever been. How do you express that?

"That was some of the coldest I've ever been"

"That was among the coldest I've ever been"

"Of the times I've been cold, that was among the coldest"

These all seem so clunky to me. Is there a more elegant way to phrase this?

This problem seems to be unique to this situation. In other contexts that are more direct, or less subjective, it doesn't seem to be an issue. For example:

"It is one of the coldest places I've ever been"

"The temperatures were among the coldest I've ever experienced"

But those aren't exactly the sentiments you're trying to capture. It is more nuanced, because you want to convey how cold it felt to you, somewhat subjectively, rather than report on, say, the objective temperatures. If that seems contrived, consider a similar situation where you're describing "some of the loneliest you've ever been".

Many thanks for suggestions on more elegant ways to phrase this kind of sentiment!

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That was about as cold as I’ve ever been.

  • This has the makings of a good answer, but it's a bit on the short side. As this is a site for "serious English language enthusiasts", perhaps you could add some detail on the function of "about as", or a google Ngram on the frequency of "about as cold as" in books, or at the very least, some information on where you hear this kind of expression (e.g. where in the USA, or Britain, or elsewhere). You can amend your post using the edit link. For further guidance, see How to Answer. :-) – Chappo Oct 14 '18 at 9:23
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If you want to express the basic sentiment simply, you could just say:

I was extremely cold.

It's doubtful many people have a lot of experience with extreme cold, so it could be assumed it was one of no more than a handful of times.

Or, if you don't mind a longer phrase:

I can recall few times I've been colder.
I can recall only a few times I've been colder.

Either indicates that you have been colder, but it hasn't happened often.

  • "It's doubtful many people have a lot of experience with extreme cold" -- Um, there are a lot of people that live in Ottawa in the winter... – Roger Sinasohn Oct 12 '18 at 21:00
  • Your second suggestion is certainly in line with what I'm looking for! It feels a bit more formal than something one would say in a casual conversation, though. To be more casual, one might say "There are very few times I've been colder" or "There are only a handful of times I've been colder" On another note, I am curious if others also find the phrases I listed in my original post awkward and clunky, or if it is simply personal preference. – Darlene Oct 12 '18 at 21:16
  • @Darlene Personally, I wouldn't use any of the first three sentences in your question. Certainly, the first two seem awkward. – Jason Bassford Oct 12 '18 at 21:37
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You could focus instead on adverbs of frequency:

I've rarely been that cold.
I've seldom been that cold.
I've hardly ever been that cold.

Or using verbs of memory which the previous commenter suggested.

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