Give someone the cold shoulder


      • ignore someone
        To intentionally disregard or snub someone, often as a form of punishment or disapproval

      • reject someone
        To show disinterest or disapproval towards someone, often resulting in their exclusion or dismissal from a group or social circle

    Examples of Give someone the cold shoulder

    • Sarah walked into the party, but everyone ignored her and gave her the cold shoulder.

      To give someone the cold shoulder is to deliberately avoid or snub them, often as a way of showing disapproval or dislike. In this example, Sarah is being treated with indifference or hostility by the other partygoers, who are refusing to acknowledge her presence.

    • After their argument, John gave Mary the cold shoulder for a week.

      Here, the idiom is used to describe a period of emotional distance or avoidance between two people. After a disagreement, John chose to withdraw his affection and attention from Mary, as a way of punishing or cooling off their relationship.

    • The boss gave the new employee the cold shoulder during the team meeting, making her feel uncomfortable and unwelcome.

      In this example, the idiom is used to convey a sense of social exclusion or ostracism. The boss's behavior towards the new employee was hostile and unfriendly, creating an unpleasant and unwelcoming atmosphere for her in the workplace.

    • After the breakup, Tom gave Rachel the cold shoulder and refused to answer her calls or texts.

      This example illustrates the use of the idiom to describe a deliberate and unilateral decision to cut off communication or contact with someone. Tom's actions were intended to signal his desire to end the relationship and move on, leaving Rachel feeling rejected and ignored.

    • The customer gave the salesperson the cold shoulder and walked out of the store without making a purchase.

      Here, the idiom is used to describe a sudden and unexpected departure by a customer, often as a result of poor service or treatment. The salesperson's behavior towards the customer may have been cold or unhelpful, causing the customer to lose interest and leave without making a purchase.


    The idiom "give someone the cold shoulder" is commonly used to express the act of ignoring or rejecting someone. It is often used to convey a sense of disapproval or punishment towards the person being given the cold shoulder. This can be seen in phrases such as "She gave him the cold shoulder after he lied to her" or "The group gave her the cold shoulder for her rude behavior."

    In a broader sense, the idiom can also be used to describe a general sense of exclusion or isolation. For example, "After her divorce, she felt like she was given the cold shoulder by her former friends" or "He was given the cold shoulder by his colleagues after his mistake cost the company a lot of money."

    Origin of "Give someone the cold shoulder"

    The origin of the idiom "give someone the cold shoulder" is not entirely clear, but there are a few theories that suggest its possible origins. One theory suggests that it originated from the practice of serving cold shoulder of meat to uninvited or unwelcome guests. This was seen as a way of showing disapproval or displeasure towards the unwanted guests.

    Another theory suggests that the idiom originated from the world of fashion. In the 1800s, women's fashion often included dresses with puffy sleeves. If a woman was not interested in a potential suitor, she would turn her shoulder and show him the "cold shoulder," indicating her lack of interest.

    Regardless of its exact origin, the idiom has been in use since at least the early 1800s and has remained a popular phrase in the English language. It is often used in both informal and formal contexts, making it a versatile idiom to express feelings of rejection or disapproval towards someone.