get cold feet

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amby

Banned
chinese
Get cold feet seems to mean that be nervous or be afraid of something. Then, in the following context, get cold feet sounds ok?

I have a big test tomorrow. I get cold feet.
I will have to live alone in a strange place. I get cold feet.
My mom is dying. I get cold feet.
 
  • MateuszMoś

    Senior Member
    Yes, to get cold feet means to get scared, back up and chicken out. I completely understand your sentences but I cannot make sure that all of them give desired meaning or effect.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I'm afraid that none of your uses of the expression are correct. As Mateusz says, it means not merely to be afraid but to back up, turn around, and "chicken out" (slang for fail to do what one had been committed to doing). Example:
    He was to be married last Sunday but he got cold feet and never showed up at the church.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm reviving this thread because a current discussion in the French forum reinforces my impression that we don't all endow "to get cold feet" with the same meaning.

    The thread you are looking at now talks of being scared/afraid and of chickening out. To me, "to get cold feet" doesn't necessarily imply either of those things; it just means "to lose enthusiasm" (for an arrangement) and doesn't tell us whether the person goes through with the arrangement in the end.

    Eg "Bill said he was going to go to the pub with us, but now he seems to be getting cold feet": There's nothing for Bill to be scared of, and it's possible he will say, "Oh, all right. I'll stir my stumps and go with you."

    Just me? AE-BE?

    Answers on a postcard, please.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I wouldn't say getting cold feet has anything directly to do with being scared. It's simply a matter of having doubts or "second thoughts" which steer one towards changing one's mind.
    Of course the doubts may in turn be caused by fear, but they need not be. As you say, lack of enthusiasm can suffice. Nevertheless I'm not sure "cold feet" is much used at all outside of its most usual context, which is not going ahead with a wedding.
    There's nothing for Bill to be scared of
    Oh yes there is. If his wife finds out, there'll be hell to pay!
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    I wouldn't say getting cold feet has anything directly to do with being scared. It's simply a matter of having doubts or "second thoughts" which steer one towards changing one's mind.
    Of course the doubts may in turn be caused by fear, but they need not be. As you say, lack of enthusiasm can suffice. Nevertheless I'm not sure "cold feet" is much used at all outside of its most usual context, which is not going ahead with a wedding.
    Oh yes there is. If his wife finds out, there'll be hell to pay!
    Getting cold feet is definitely more generalised than just a wedding. One can get cold feet on a business deal where suddenly you realise the risk you are about to take going ahead with the merger: you get cold feet and blackout of the deal.

    GF..

    There are other similar uses of get cold feet.

    Often it's just a change of mind. Something just doesn't feel right and one doesn't go ahead.. That's backing out because of cold feet.
    Approximately.

    Should I post or not post this post? I haven't got cold feet at all. Click submit reply.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    George French is right; the use isn't restricted to weddings. But it does always mean having misgivings and backing out, whether one's had second thoughts about marrying, closing a business deal, running a marathon, or asking for a raise.
     
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