The hottest days of the summer are called "the dog days". Is there anything like that for winter? I couldn't find anything on the web.

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    In what country? Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 16:07
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    @ronrothman - Certainly not in Antarctica!
    – BeatsMe
    Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 19:54
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    As fans of John Keats know, St. Agnes's Eve (January 20) was traditionally reckoned (in his day, in England) to be the coldest night of the year. So if you referred to something as happening "round about the Eve of St Agnes," two or three percent of your readers would no doubt think to themselves, "Ah, bitter chill it was!"
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 3:43
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    @SvenYargs two or three percent of your readers would no doubt think to themselves, I suspect you are wildly optimistic about the numbers who have read Keats and know of the significance of St Agnes's Eve. :)
    – Greybeard
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 8:53
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    Rather more may have encountered her fountain in 'Good King Wenceslas'.
    – Laurence
    Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 0:01

5 Answers 5


You can use the expression:

dead of winter

the middle of winter, when it is very cold:

  • It was the dead of winter and the ground was covered in deep snow.

(Cambridge Dictionary)

The expression dead of is used to refer to:

The period of greatest intensity of something, such as darkness or cold. For example, I love looking at seed catalogs in the dead of winter, when it's below zero outside. The earliest recorded use of dead of night, for "darkest time of night," was in Edward Hall's Chronicle of 1548: "In the dead of the night ... he broke up his camp and fled." Dead of winter, for the coldest part of winter, dates from the early 1600s.

(The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer)

  • also, Midwinter Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 10:33
  • Is “dead of X” used for any X other than “night” and “winter”?
    – KRyan
    Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 19:33
  • @KRyan - interesting question. The two main expressions (night and winter) appear to be make up most of usage instances of “in the dead of” according to books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – user 66974
    Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 19:41

Also, "depths of winter":

the middle of winter : the coldest part of winter.



A common expression for the coldest days in British English is brass monkey weather.

Brass monkey weather: Extremely cold weather. [Cambridge English dictionary]

Or it's cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.

Ice-cold, stone-cold,bone-chilling cold could also be used.

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    Worth noting this is (AFAICT) British-English-specific. Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 23:36
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    As a Brit, I've never heard of it. Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 15:47
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    @BalinKingOfMoriaReinstateCMs Indeed, "brass monkey weather" will probably confuse an American, although note that "cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey" is quite self-explanatory and should be understandable to any English speaker. :) Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 20:06

You could use


This is probably most famously used in the Christmas hymn "In the bleak midwinter". It's not a phrase you meet very often, but it's something which anyone hearing/reading it would immediately understand.

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    Midwinter is the winter solstice, which is generally a bit warmer than late winter as the hemisphere is still cooling down, so is not the coldest days of winter, which typically are in early February. Technically, as the halfway from a solstice to an equinox, early February is the quarter day of winter. Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 14:49
  • @PeteKirkham Winter is generally given as starting at winter solstice. Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 4:57
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    @Acccumulation That's the astronomical definition, but IME people aren't referring to the astronomical definitions when we use words such as "winter". In the northern temperate zone it can get wintry well before 21 Dec.
    – Rosie F
    Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 9:30

Growing up in Wisconsin, a rather cold state located in the region referred to as the Midwest of the United States, we said, "It's colder than a witch's tit in a brass bra in the middle of February!"

  • That describes it being cold but is it used to say "these are the coldest days of winter"? Commented Aug 11, 2020 at 5:27

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