cold shoulder(redirected from the cold shoulder)
1. noun A display or appearance of disinterest; a snub. This phrase usually refers to the act of ignoring someone. It originated with the 19th-century practice of serving of a cold shoulder of meat to tiresome guests. She thinks you started that rumor about you—that's why she's been giving you the cold shoulder all day.
2. adjective Describing a type of women's shirt that has sleeves but leaves the shoulders exposed. The phrase is typically hyphenated in this usage. I think I'm too old to be wearing a cold shoulder top like that!
Fig. an attitude of rejection. (*Typically: get ~; give someone ~.) If you greet her at a party, you'll just get the cold shoulder. I thought that Sally and I were friends, but lately I've been getting the cold shoulder.
Deliberate coldness or disregard, a slight or snub. For example, When I said hello to her in the library, she gave me the cold shoulder and walked away . This term, which first appeared in writings by Sir Walter Scott and others, supposedly alludes to the custom of welcoming a desired guest with a meal of roasted meat, but serving only a cold shoulder of beef or lamb-a far inferior dish-to those who outstayed their welcome. [Early 1800s]
Intended indifference. Although some sources contend that the phrase refers to serving unwanted or overstaying guests servings of the less preferable unheated leg of mutton, that's not where the expression came from. It first appeared in Sir Walter Scott's novel, The Antiquary, as a metaphor for disdain, the complete anthithesis of a warm hug.