Bitten by Winter 「冬にやられた」

Bitten by Winter 「冬にやられた」

Hello, this is Simon.

Winter is my least favorite season. The days are short, and it is difficult to get out of bed because it is dark and cold. However, so far this year has been surprisingly mild. The daytime has been quite pleasant, maybe just a little nippy late afternoon. I knew this won’t last forever though, and just as I was thinking about how nice it would be if it stayed like this all winter, we had a cold snap.

This caught me by surprise as I had been dressing for the more mild weather. When I went to work in the morning the other day, there was a slight chill in the air, but nothing too bad. However, while I was at work the temperature plummeted. When I left my workplace in the evening, I was greeted by a biting cold wind. I could feel it on my face. My cheeks were stinging. That particular day, I had a long walk back to the station so I was worried. This wasn’t any ordinary cold wind. It went right through me , and I actually felt cold to my bones. It was like the dead of winter. The walk to the station seemed to take forever. By the time I got there, I was not only shivering, but also my teeth were chattering and knees were knocking. I also had goosebumps all over my arms, and my fingers had gone numb. I thought I would catch my death of cold, as the train wasn’t going to arrive for another 15 minutes.

The train finally arrived and I got in. It was absolutely toasty inside. It was a nice long train ride too, so I warmed up quite nicely. However, since I felt so warm, when I got off the train it felt arctic outside. I had a twenty minute bike ride home, but raced back, and I think I managed to get back in ten.

I was fortunate in that I didn’t catch a cold or anything that day. But now, I make a point of checking the weather forecast every morning and dressing appropriately.

This experience reminded me of a few different expressions we use that are related to cold weather. Since, we are heading towards the coldest month of the year, I thought it would be a good opportunity to introduce a few.


The adjective “nippy” is a casual wording which means the weather or air is quite cold. It has pretty much the same meaning as chilly” (e.g. It’s a little nippy/chilly today – you best put on something warm.)

“cold snap”

A “cold snap” is a sudden short period of cold weather. It is used often in weather reports (e.g. Japan has been experiencing a cold snap for the past few days.)

“chill in the air”

The noun “chill” means a feeling of cold. The phrase “a chill in the air” can be used to describe both the weather or air outside, and also the atmosphere in a place. (e.g. There was a chill in the air after he spoke. Nobody said a word.)

“the temperature plummeted”

To “plummet” means to fall very quickly and suddenly. The opposite of this would be to “shoot up” (e.g. The temperature shot up to 40 degrees in peak of the day.)

“biting cold wind”

If weather is cold to the point where it almost hurts, we can say it is “biting” (e.g. He spend two hours outside shoveling snow in the biting cold.) The verb “bite” can also be used in a similar way (e.g. The wind bit into their faces as they walked along the ridge if the mountain.)

“My cheeks were stinging”

To “sting” means to cause sharp pain, which is often temporary. It can be both transitive and intransitive (e.g. The soap stung my eyes./His cheek stung after he was slapped by his mother.)

“It went right through me”

When a wind is so cold that it feels as though it is passing through the fabric of your clothes and directly onto your skin, you can say that it is going “right through you.

“cold to my bones”

To be cold to your bones means to be extremely cold. It is as though every part of your body right down to your very bones themselves are cold. There is also a similar expression, which is “chill one to the bone” (e.g. The mountain wind chilled us to the bone.)

“the dead of winter”

The “the dead of winter” means the middle of winter or the coldest part of winter.
(e.g. It was the dead of winter, and our town got hit by the most fierce blizzard ever. )

“shivering, my teeth were chattering and knees were knocking”

To “shiver” means to shake or tremble from fear or being cold. When your teeth “chatter” and your knees “knock”, it means they knock together repeatedly for the same reason.


“Goosebumps” are small raised areas that appear on your skin because of cold, fear, or excitement (e.g. His beautiful singing gave me goosebumps.)

“my fingers had gone numb”

To be or go “numb” means to have no feeling. This can also be used to describe a state of not being able to feel any emotions or to think clearly, because you are very shocked or frightened (e.g. After she heard the news, she was numb for a few days.)

“catch my death of cold”

To “catch ones death of cold” means to catch a severe cold (e.g. Make sure you dry your hair properly before you go outside, or you’ll catch your death of cold.)


The adjective “toasty” means comfortably and pleasantly warm. It is very similar to “cozy” (e.g. I felt warm and toasty/cozy sitting in front of the fire.)


The “Arctic” is the area around the North Pole. It is also an adjective means from the Arctic region, or extremely cold (Our region has been experiencing Arctic conditions these past few days.)


If you get the chance, try using some of these words and expressions. I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunities to talk about the cold weather these next couple of months.

Until next time, take care and stay warm!


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Hello! My name is Simon. I am from New Zealand, and have been living and teaching English in Japan since 1999. My hobbies include movies, playing the guitar, gardening and hiking.