cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey

cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey

rude Extremely cold, usually said of the weather. Though often believed to refer to so-called "brass monkeys" of a naval ship (brass trays where cannonballs were supposedly stored), this has been widely discredited as anachronistic; it is more likely a semi-vulgar reference to bronze replicas of the Three Wise Monkeys (i.e., "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil") often sold as popular tourist souvenirs in China and Japan. I wouldn't want to be trapped out in this weather tonight, it's cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey!

cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey

BRITISH, INFORMAL
People say it's cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey when the weather is extremely cold. I went into a house this morning that was cold enough to freeze the balls off of a brass monkey. Note: You can also use brass monkey before nouns such as weather or day. It's been real brass monkey weather this week. Note: A brass monkey was a plate on a warship's deck on which cannon balls were stacked. In very cold weather the metal shrank, causing the stack to fall down.

cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey

Frigid, extremely cold. This term, already known by 1835, comes from naval warfare, in the days when cannonballs were stacked in pyramid form on brass trays called “monkeys.” In cold weather the metal would contract and the balls fall off. For a similar hyperbole, see chilled to the bone.