What Does Chilled to the Bone Mean?

Chilled to the Bone Meaning

Definition: To be very cold, particularly when one is outside.

The idiom chilled to the bone is used to express when one is very cold. It is most commonly used to refer to strenuous physical activities that take place outdoors. This is not always the case, however; it can be used in any context that involves extreme cold.

Ways to Use Chilled to the Bone

The etymology of this phrase is unclear. It most likely derives from the literal meaning of the word chill, which refers to the coldness of the air or atmosphere. The implication of chilled to the bone is that the air is so cold it seeps through one’s skin and goes straight down to the bone.

Meaning of chilled to the boneThis phrase is usually used to refer to one’s engagement in physical activities that take place outdoors. For instance, a skier might say he is chilled to the bone after a long day on the slopes.

However, this idiom does not always have to refer to outdoor activity and can be used in any context that involves extremely cold temperatures. For example, Denny might refer to himself as chilled to the bone if the heating system in his home has stopped working, and it is snowing outside.

Similar phrases in English, including chilled to the marrow and simply frozen, have the same meaning as chilled to the bone.

Examples of Chilled to the Bone

 Define chilling to the boneThis sample conversation between a mother and her son, who are on a camping trip, illustrates the correct use of this idiom.

Kerry: Don’t you love the great outdoors?

Trevor: No. This wind chills me to the bone. Whose idea was it to go camping in winter?

Here is another conversation between a married couple, one of whom is sick.

Joe: Is the heat on? Why is it so cold in here?

Barb: I’m not cold at all. I’m actually quite comfortable.

Joe: Really? I’m chilled to the bone over here. I need another blanket.

Barb: Maybe you are getting sick; I’ll make you some tea.

More Examples

  • I’m lying fully clothed in foul weather gear, boots, watch cap, on the bunk, chilled to the bone. – LA Times
  • Ten residents ordered to briefly leave the building were allowed back inside, but not before being chilled to the bone during today’s cold snap. – NY Post


The English idiom chilled to the bone means you are extremely cold.