Put On Ice – Idiom, Meaning and Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

To put on ice means to delay or postpone something or to keep something in a state of suspension or inactivity. Imagine a hot summer’s day, and you’ve just made a pitcher of fresh lemonade, but you’re not quite ready to drink it yet. Where do you place it? In the fridge, of course! That’s the whole idea behind this idiom.

An idiom is a word or common phrase that, without context, doesn’t have a meaning that makes sense. It’s metaphorical. The trick to using them is knowing what context they fit in. So, I’ll explain the deeper meaning behind this phrase and share its origin as well as a few examples in a sentence. Ready to learn?

Put on Ice Idiom Meaning Explained

Put On Ice – Idiom Meaning and Origin

The idiom put on ice means to freeze something in place, to put something on hold or pause until you’re ready for it. This versatile phrase can be applied metaphorically to a wide range of subjects, be it an object, a project, or even an idea.

My husband and I had begun planning a trip to Disney a few years ago. Then the pandemic hit. So, we eventually had to put the whole idea on ice until it was a better time to travel with kids.

This idiom reflects the pragmatic approach of postponing something temporarily to ensure a better outcome or experience in the future.

Origin and Etymology of the Phrase Put on Ice

Put on Ice Ngram
Put on ice usage trend.

The origin of the idiom “put on ice” is pretty straightforward. Before the invention of modern refrigeration, like iceboxes and refrigerators, ice was the only way of preserving perishables. If someone wanted to keep something for later, like meat, they’d put it on ice.

Drying and smoking were also common preservation methods for food, but to keep it fresh, ice was needed.

There’s also a relation to mob and gang culture where putting someone on ice meant murdering them. Yikes! Regardless, by the 19th century, this concept morphed into a metaphor for postponing or holding off on something.

Synonyms to Use for Put on Ice

  • Hold over
  • Postpone
  • Delay
  • Shelve
  • Set aside
  • Put on the back burner
  • Hold off

Examples of Put on Ice in a Sentence

Put On Ice – Idiom Meaning and Origin 1

  • They decided to put the local project on ice until proper funding was secured.
  • The movie release has been put on ice due to unforeseen circumstances with the cast.
  • We’ve put our recruitment plans on ice until we get more clarity from upper management.
  • The new dress code policy at the bar, controversial from the start, was quickly put on ice when female servers spoke up.
  • My daughter decided to put her studies on ice and travel the world for a year.
  • I’ve got some exciting ideas for my new book, but they’ll have to be put on ice until I finish the one I’m writing.
  • The team decided to put the software update on ice until all bugs were resolved.
  • Our weekend trip to the beach has been put on ice because of the storm.

Just Chill Out

The idiom “put on ice” has a simple yet poignant message about life’s delays and the necessity of prioritizing and sometimes putting things on hold. Add even more zing to your conversations with new idioms you can find right on our site!