Has someone ever given you the cold shoulder? This means to intentionally ignore you or to make a show of appearing uninterested in you. No one likes to get the cold shoulder! Keep reading to learn more about this and two other common English relationship idioms. And make sure to do the conversation practice questions at the end!
If you find this article useful, you would also probably enjoy 200 Practical English Idioms for more context-based learning and common example sentences.
give someone the cold shoulder.
to intentionally ignore someone or to make a show of appearing uninterested in them; to snub someone
“Why are you giving me the cold shoulder? What did I do? Hello? Talk to me!”
“I’m mad at him. What do you think I should do?” “Give him the cold shoulder.”
“I’ve gotten the cold shoulder from him for a week now. I hope he talks to me soon.”
“I hurt her, so now she’s giving me the cold shoulder. I feel terrible.”
common sentence: “He/She/They gave me the cold shoulder.”
stab someone in the back.
to betray someone; to break someone’s trust by doing something when they’re not looking
“Have you ever read Julius Caesar? Caesar’s friends lie to his face and stab him in the back.”
“I thought you could keep my secret, but you told everyone and stabbed me in the back instead!”
“Can I trust you?” “Of course. I would never stab you in the back.”
“Never trust a corporation. They’ll stab you in the back the moment they can’t take more money from you.”
common sentence: “He/She/They stabbed me in the back.”
mess with someone.
to joke in order to trick someone; to create problems for someone; to bother someone because you want them to react in a particular way
“Don’t take Josh so seriously. He’s just messing with you.”
“You’re messing with the wrong guy.”
“Don’t eat your lunch. I spat in it.” “Are you messing with me?” “Yes.”
“Jackie’s been messing with me all month. I know she wants me to get angry, but I’m going to show her that she doesn’t bother me.”
common sentence: “Are you messing with me?”
Why do people give someone the cold shoulder sometimes?
Ex. "If you're really upset with your partner, sometimes you don't want to talk to them. So you give them the cold shoulder because they deserve to be ignored."
Have you ever been stabbed in the back by someone you trusted?
Ex. "Yes, when I was a kid, my best friend stabbed me in the back. He/She..."
Who is someone in your life you would never mess with?
Ex. "I would never mess with my mom. She's super serious!"
Complete the idioms.
She __________ me in the back. (past tense: broke my trust / betrayed me)
Don't __________ with me. (bother, joke, or create problems)
He gave me the cold __________. (ignored me / pretended like I didn't exist!)
She stabbed me in the back.
Don't mess with me.
He gave me the cold shoulder.
For more language you can use, check out 200 Practical English Idioms. It includes these and many other everyday idioms.
Until next time, I wish you success in your studies.