What Does Cold Hands Warm Heart Mean?

Cold Hands, Warm Heart Meaning

Definition: A description of someone who does not outwardly show feelings but, inwardly, is very kind and loving.

This phrase is used to describe another person—perhaps a stern boss who is caring on the inside. 

This may be said about any person who is secretly emotional or caring. It describes a person who does not appear to be sentimental on the outside but secretly does acts of kindness.

Origin of Cold Hands, Warm Heart

 define cold hands warm heartsThe phrase has been in use for years, and it’s meaning is quite clear.

Cold and warm are both used figuratively to refer to unwelcoming and welcoming people, respectively.

If someone is said to be a “cold” individual, he is not welcoming. He might be emotionally distant, or her might seem to not care about others feelings.

If someone is said to be a “warm” individual, he is welcoming. He has a pleasant personality that attracts those around him.

This saying pits these two ideas against each other by saying that since someone has a cold outward appearance (a cold hand), this does not mean that he doesn’t also have a warm heart.

This is similar to saying “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” One’s outer actions or the way one presents oneself may not be the same as the way one behaves in private.

The phrase may have come from German, as there is an identical German saying: kalte hand, warmes herz.

Examples of Cold Hands, Warm Heart

cold hands warm heart sayingHere is an example dialogue of two employees using this phrase to talk about their boss.

Christie: Our boss is so mean. He doesn’t care about any of us.

Steve: He pays us pretty good actually. I think he just seems distant.

Christie: Maybe you’re right. This is a good job, and we do have great benefits.

Steve: I think he is a classic case of cold hands, warm heart. He cares about all of deep down; he just doesn’t show it all the time.

One may also say this of a person who does not kiss or hold hands in public but makes grand romantic gestures to his partner when in private.

More Examples

  • Researchers say there really is something to the old adage, “Cold hands, warm heart. Dr. Han Kim of the University of Utah School of Medicine said the saying is demonstrable by “real differences in temperature” between men and women. – LA Times
  • The adage “Cold hands, warm heart” might describe me accurately if it also included “cold feet.” – New York Times


This saying refers to someone who does not show his or her feelings outwardly but is a caring person on the inside. In other words, not showing feelings does not signify lack of feelings.