Put on ice

Put on ice is an idiom with two very distinct definitions. 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 saying put on ice, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

First, put on ice may mean to save something until a later time, to postpone something, to preserve something until you need it. For instance, one may say that he has put his extra pair of shoes on ice until he wears out his first pair of shoes, which means he stores his extra shoes in a closet or under his bed to save them for a time when he will need them. This definition of the idiom put on ice came into use in the latter-1800s, when perishable food was often stored in ice boxes with physical blocks of ice. The second, more sinister meaning of put on ice is to murder someone. The image is of preserving a dead body in a refrigerator to prevent decomposition while determining how to dispose of the corpse. This use of the expression put on ice was common as gangster slang in the early to mid-twentieth century.


According to the public servants I checked in with, conversations on data governance and digital rights are, as one official put it, “on ice” at present. (Ottawa Citizen)

Discovery had already set up an online service for its own customers but had put it on ice due to a regulatory hold-up. (Reuters)

And I, arrogantly, thought that somehow I could put him on ice and return to him. (Daily Mail)

We`ve heard it all, too: ”When he walks in, put him on ice.”  (Chicago Tribune)

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