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Cool as Expressed in English Idioms and Sayings

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Ben has a life-long interest in language and is particularly interested in the expressions, phrases, and idioms that contribute to it.


Cool Idioms and Sayings Explained

To be considered "cool" is probably the hottest and most sought-after tag a person can hope to have. While being cool is a much-sought attribute for the young, it can also be relevant to the older generation. I'm 64 years of age, and I still like to think that I'm a "cool dude." My grandchildren enjoy reminding me how uncool I am, but I live in hope.

So why has it always been cool to be "cool"? Unlike many other words that hitch their wagon to a particular fad, fashion, or object, being cool flexes and redefines itself to fit whatever the next generation considers being the height of coolness.

Cool, Calm and Collected

Meaning: A phrase indicating that a person is in complete control of themselves. To be unemotional and self-possessed.

Example sentence: "I don't know how Samantha does it—no matter what life throws at her; she always seems so cool, calm, and collected."

Possible origin: An expression reputed to have initially appeared in a law journal dating back to 1885. More recently (the 1960s), the phrase became synonymous with a deodorant advertisement campaign for "Secret Aerosol." The campaign slogan's actual words are: "To keep women cool, calm and self-assured."

To Keep One's Cool

Meaning: A phrase telling of the ability to retain your composure. To be calm despite being faced with a stressful situation.

Example sentence: "I know that driver cut you up, and he is an absolute idiot, but you still have another thirty miles to navigate, and you need to keep your cool."


Cool Customer

Meaning: A person who even-tempered despite being in a stressful environment.

Example sentence: "Gavin is such a cool customer; he barely broke into a sweat when the lift remained stuck between floors for over an hour—I would have been a quivering wreck after the first twenty minutes."

Cool as a Cucumber

Meaning: A commonly used idiom that suggests a person is calm, composed, and above the fray of even the most stressful situations.

Example sentence: "I don't know how Jenny does it, her team is prone to running around like headless chickens trying to get the order out in time, but she stands back, organizes them, and exerts an air of calm authority—she is as cool as a cucumber."

An Explanation of Being as Cool as a Cucumber

Cool Your Jets

Meaning: To tell a person to calm down and not be agitated.

Example sentence: "Don't be freaked out! Just cool your jets a little and calm down."

Possible origin: An American expression reportedly first seen in print in 1973 when mentioned in the Daily Herald (Wisconsin Rapids). At that time, it meant that if you need to cool down, then step outside into the freezing weather.

A Cool Head

Meaning: To retain a reasonable approach towards a tricky or awkward situation. It can also describe a person who approaches a problem in an unexcited and calm manner

Example sentence: "I know that this is a difficult situation, but it calls for a cool head if we are to resolve this issue."

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Stay Cool

Meaning: Don't lose control of yourself—stay calm!

Example sentence: "You're in danger of losing the contract; you can't rant at the client like that. Just stay cool and calm the situation down a little."


To Blow Your Cool

Meaning: Describes a situation where a person loses control becoming agitated or angry.

Example sentence: "If you lot don't stop bickering about how hard done by you all feel—I'm going to blow my cool—you all need to appreciate the things you do have—now for goodness sake, just shut up!"

Cool Cat

Meaning: A person considered to be "hip" or bang on-trend.

Example sentence: "He always seems to set the standard when it comes to how he dresses—he's such a cool cat."

Possible origin: Became popular following the Jazz sound that burst onto the music scene in 1920s America.

Cool One's Heels

Meaning: To "cool one's heels" is to be kept waiting. In Great Britain, the idiom "kick one's heels" has the same meaning.

An example being: "We have been waiting for the concert hall doors to open for over two hours. The show was to have started 15 minutes ago, and no one has even had the decency to let us know what's causing the delay. We are stuck out here, cooling our heels, and the queue is becoming restless.

To cool your heels is to be kept waiting. Cool shoes by the way!

To cool your heels is to be kept waiting. Cool shoes by the way!

Cool Bananas

Meaning: Said to someone in an expression of appreciation or congratulations. It can be said to infer that you believe something to be very good and often used as a quick retort to a statement by another person.

Example sentence one: "Thanks for finishing that decorating for me—it's the cool bananas."

Example two: (person A) "I nailed my exams, achieving 5 top grades." (Person B retorts) "Cool bananas!".

I love the smart sweater. Its the cool bananas!

I love the smart sweater. Its the cool bananas!


Meaning: As an adjective, it expresses pleasure or approval of something. The term can describe a person who is sophisticated in their outlook.

Example sentence: "I heard that you raised a heap of money for charity after completing a Marathon run—cool!"


Meaning: is the opposite to above, expressing displeasure or disapproval of something.

Example sentence: "It was uncool to try and dump that dog off at the pound."

Not Cool!

Meaning: Expresses the view that a person has done something terrible, intolerable, or objectionable.

Example sentence: "He may not like Joe very much, but deliberately scratching his car is simply out of order—not cool!"

A Cool Reception

Meaning: To be greeted with disdain. A situation where a person receives an inhospitable welcome.

Example sentence: "I turned up late for the board meeting, and the atmosphere was a little frosty— it was a cool reception—well deserved as I had kept them waiting for over an hour."

Cool Off

Meaning: Can be said in response to being too hot. (Also used to tell a person to calm themselves or settle down).

Example sentence: "This heatwave is unbearable; I'm going to jump in the pool and cool off."


Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on January 16, 2021:

It's surprising how many times the word 'cool' comes up in expressions when you see it written down like this. I've probably said so many of them over the years too!

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