Put on ice

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Put on ice is an idiom with two very distinct definitions. 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)