stop cold

(redirected from come to a dead stop)

stop someone cold

to halt someone immediately. When you told us the bad news, it stopped me cold.
See also: cold, stop

stop cold

Also, stop dead or in one's tracks or on a dime . Halt suddenly, come to a standstill, as in When a thread breaks, the machine just stops cold, or He was so surprised to see them in the audience that he stopped dead in the middle of his speech , or The deer saw the hunter and stopped in its tracks, or An excellent skateboarder, she could stop on a dime. The first term uses cold in the sense "suddenly and completely," a usage dating from the late 1800s. The first variant was first recorded in 1789 and probably was derived from the slightly older, and still current, come to a dead stop, with the same meaning. The second variant uses in one's tracks in the sense of "on the spot" or "where one is at the moment"; it was first recorded in 1824. The third variant alludes to the dime or ten-cent piece, the smallest-size coin.
See also: cold, stop