Definition of freeze in English:

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Pronunciation: /frēz/

verb (past froze /frōz/; past participle frozen /ˈfrōzən/)

1 [no object] (Of a liquid) be turned into ice or another solid as a result of extreme cold: in the winter the milk froze
More example sentences
  • Since water expands as it freezes, ice forming inside pipes can break them.
  • The water vapour would rise to the uppermost atmosphere where it freezes into tiny ice crystals.
  • The water may even freeze, producing frost on the inside surface of the window.
1.1 [with object] Turn (a liquid) into ice or another solid.
1.2(Of something wet or containing liquid) become blocked, covered, or rigid with ice: the pipes had frozen
More example sentences
  • You have to put cardboard up in the grates of your car to keep the engine block from freezing.
  • Trees can be planted any time before the ground freezes.
  • Planting can take place anytime the soil can be worked, as long as the plants' root structures have time to develop before the ground freezes.
ice over, ice up, solidify
icy, ice-covered, ice-bound, frosty, frosted, gelid;
frozen solid, hard, (as) hard as iron
literary rimy
1.3 [with object] Cause (something wet or containing liquid) to become blocked, covered, or rigid with ice: [with complement]: the ground was frozen hard
More example sentences
  • Wild birds overwintering in your garden need clean water for drinking and bathing when natural water sources freeze solid.
  • In the North, winter cold freezes bare skin in seconds.
  • After the ground freezes, remove old mulch and replace it with hay, evergreen boughs, or floating row covers.
1.4Be or feel so cold that one is near death (often used hyperbolically): you’ll freeze to death standing there
More example sentences
  • It's minus 10 degrees outside, if he falls over he'll freeze to death!
  • I take a cardigan and a pashmina, because on many planes you can freeze to death from the air conditioning.
  • I shivered, ‘It's getting cold out here, we better head in before we freeze to death.’
be very cold, be numb with cold, turn blue with cold, shiver, be chilled to the bone/marrow
1.5 [with object] (Of the weather) cause (someone) to feel so cold that they are near death.
Example sentences
  • The stone hurt her bare feet, and the rain was slowly freezing her.
  • Cases at two undisclosed hospitals in Scotland exposed possible flaws in venting systems used with the machines, which could disperse helium gas cold enough to freeze patients to death.
  • The wind is like a thousand tiny knives cutting into you and rain freezes you to the bone.
freezing, icy, very cold, chilled to the bone/marrow, numb, numbed, frozen stiff, frostbitten
informal frozen to death
1.6(Of the weather) be at or below freezing: at night it froze again
More example sentences
  • During the week, it had snowed, then thawed and then it froze and there was ice under all that water on the surface.
  • ‘Did you tell him that he could come inside?’ ‘Yes! It's beginning to freeze outside! Do you want to give him hypothermia?’
  • It's eased a little by now, although fun times will be ahead commuting tomorrow if it freezes tonight, even for those of us who live less than five kilometres from where we work.
1.7 [with object] Deprive (a part of the body) of feeling, especially by the application of a chilled anesthetic substance.
Example sentences
  • The mouth and throat are numbed up or frozen with a local anesthetic until all cough and gag reflexes are gone.
  • It's amazing how numb your mouth can be when they freeze it.
  • His mouth was frozen numb from eating so much ice cream.
1.8 [with object] Treat (someone) with a cold manner; stare coldly at (someone): she would freeze him with a look when he tried to talk to her
2 [with object] Store (something) at a very low temperature in order to preserve it: the cake can be frozen
More example sentences
  • Most food is frozen or pre-cooked to preserve it - a great shame.
  • The cells were frozen and stored for weeks to months.
  • Either cook or freeze raw meat, fish and poultry within two days of purchasing it.
2.1 [no object] (Of food) be able to be preserved by freezing: this soup freezes well
More example sentences
  • Cooked wild rice freezes well, so you can conveniently keep it on hand for gourmet dishes.
  • All these fruits freeze well except strawberries, which should be saved for the summer months.
  • It's easy to bake, being essentially a cake more than a steamed pudding, it comes with a spectacularly simple sauce, it freezes well and it reheats like a dream for seconds and thirds.
3 [no object] Become suddenly motionless or paralyzed with fear or shock: Mathewson froze on the spot, unable to take the next step
More example sentences
  • For a moment, there was silence in the centre of Potters Bar as everyone nearby froze at the shock of the noise and juddering force of the impact.
  • A schoolgirl told how she froze with fear as she was allegedly molested by a drunken man in an early hours attack.
  • While the two other women ran, Zhao testified that she froze, fearing she would be shot.
stop dead, stop in one's tracks, stop, stand (stock) still, go rigid, become motionless, become paralyzed
3.1Stop moving when ordered or directed.
Example sentences
  • They all held up AK 47 at them, ordering them to freeze, and the helicopter also warned them of a sniper.
  • When he ordered everyone to freeze, they froze.
4 [with object] Hold (something) at a fixed level or in a fixed state for a period of time: new spending on defense was to be frozen
More example sentences
  • The cost of new cars is currently frozen at the same level as June 2003, making the New Year the perfect time to bag a good deal.
  • The employer contribution is frozen at the level of 6.5 percent.
  • So long as the prices of consumer goods were frozen below free-market levels, producers had little incentive to bring their goods to market.
fix, hold, peg, set;
limit, restrict, cap, confine, regulate;
hold/keep down
4.1Prevent (assets) from being used for a period of time: the charity’s bank account has been frozen
More example sentences
  • Company bank accounts and assets have been frozen by Russian courts to prevent Yukos from selling businesses to fund the bill.
  • Government instructions, bankers say, were to freeze assets now and ask questions later.
  • The firm will likely be placed under court receivership, which would install trustees and freeze all company assets.
4.2Stop (a moving image) at a particular frame when filming or viewing: the camera will set fast shutter speeds to freeze the action
More example sentences
  • If you freeze the image near the start of Shadows, you'll see that it's really an abstract film.
  • The perceptual realm that we sense beyond the sphere of focused vision is as important as the focused image that can be frozen by the camera.
  • The last image, a frozen frame, is of his sad, sweet face alongside the flowers.
4.3 [no object] (Of a computer screen) become temporarily locked because of system problems.
Example sentences
  • If the screen freezes or you experience system lockups it might be due to the video card.
  • PC screens froze and, with little other choice left, the event was cancelled.
  • The system was always freezing and changing homepages in Internet Explorer.


1An act of holding or being held at a fixed level or in a fixed state: workers faced a pay freeze
More example sentences
  • The government has imposed a two and a half year pay freeze on teachers.
  • In the 2002 pay round, the company proposed a freeze on wages and cuts to conditions such as shift allowances and overtime rates.
  • The task force called for a freeze on all measures which would see alcohol becoming more available on the grounds that further availability would increase alcohol problems.
1.1 short for freeze-frame.
2A period of frost or very cold weather: the big freeze surprised the weathermen
More example sentences
  • Many problems related to the May 28 frost in 1992 were related to the cool, damp weather that followed the freeze.
  • The big freeze showed no sign of ending yesterday with savage frosts overnight and forecasters predicting temperatures as low as minus 20C.
  • It will highlight the fact that we are still living in the great ice age, which has included periods of both hot and cold weather, and will examine the two most recent big freezes in 1947 and 1963.


freeze one's blood

(or one's blood freezes) Fill (or be filled) with a sudden feeling of great fear or horror.
Example sentences
  • Brian looked back at the empty chairs, a sudden terrifying thought making his blood freeze.
  • While I haven't read the story in question, as described here it freezes my blood.
  • I twisted my head to look at her- and my blood froze.

Phrasal verbs

freeze someone out

informal Behave in a hostile or obstructive way so as to exclude someone from something.
Example sentences
  • Ackerman listened politely to Cowan's critique - then froze him out of the rest of the discussion.
  • But Sandy refused to freeze him out of the conversation and kept putting a paternalistic arm on his shoulder and buying him more lager.
  • Mummy never used my father as a threat to get me to do what she wanted, neither did she hug me when he was looking yet freeze me out when he wasn't.



Pronunciation: /-zəbəl/
Example sentences
  • Strain the cordial, and put into small, freezable containers.
  • It's bakeable, freezable, microwaveable, disposable cookware that's almost too attractive to leave behind.
  • This was a huge communal place where, for a rental fee, you stored freezable perishables - fish and meat.


Old English frēosan (in the phrase hit frēoseth 'it is freezing, it is so cold that water turns to ice'), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch vriezen and German frieren, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin pruina 'hoarfrost' and frost.

  • frost from Old English:

    This is one of our earliest English words, recorded from the 8th century and related to freeze (Old English). Not until the 19th century do we start to hear of Jack Frost. The Sporting Magazine of 1826 recorded ruefully of the effects of frozen ground, ‘Jack Frost, however, put a veto on our morning's sport.’ See also ice

Words that rhyme with freeze

Achinese, Ambonese, appease, Assamese, Balinese, Belize, Beninese, Bernese, bêtise, Bhutanese, breeze, Burmese, Cantonese, Castries, cerise, cheese, chemise, Chinese, Cingalese, Cleese, Congolese, Denise, Dodecanese, ease, éminence grise, expertise, Faroese, Fries, frieze, Gabonese, Genoese, Goanese, Guyanese, he's, Japanese, Javanese, jeez, journalese, Kanarese, Keys, Lebanese, lees, legalese, Louise, Macanese, Madurese, Maltese, marquise, Milanese, Nepalese, officialese, overseas, pease, Pekinese, Peloponnese, Piedmontese, please, Portuguese, Pyrenees, reprise, Rwandese, seise, seize, Senegalese, she's, Siamese, Sienese, Sikkimese, Sinhalese, sleaze, sneeze, squeeze, Stockton-on-Tees, Sudanese, Sundanese, Surinamese, Tabriz, Taiwanese, tease, Tees, telegraphese, these, Timorese, Togolese, trapeze, valise, Viennese, Vietnamese, vocalese, wheeze

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: freeze

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