Pour cold water on and throw cold water on

Pour cold water on and throw cold water on are two versions of an idiom that dates back a few hundred years. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common idioms pour cold water on and throw cold water on, where they came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Pour cold water on something and throw cold water on something mean to dampen enthusiasm for something, to deter or discourage someone from doing something or believing something. The expressions pour cold water on and throw cold water on came into use around 1800 and refer to putting out a fire by pouring water on it and waking someone up by throwing cold water in his or her face. Related phrases are pours cold water on, poured cold water on, pouring cold water on, throws cold water on, threw cold water on, thrown cold water on, throwing cold water on.


Inflation could pour cold water on Bank of Canada’s hot-economy strategy (Reuters)

Leaders pour cold water on Obongi ferry relocation plan (Daily Monitor)

Acting Mayor Kim Janey appeared to throw cold water on the idea of following New York City’s lead and mandating proof of vaccines for various indoor activities — and she referenced slavery, the Jim Crow era and former President Donald Trump in talking it down. (Boston Herald)

And at a time media merger activity is heating up, executives from Comcast sought to throw cold water on the notion that the Philadelphia entertainment giant might be looking to do a transformative new deal. (Variety)

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