stop cold(redirected from come to a dead stop)
stop (one) cold
To make one stop or come to a complete halt immediately or very suddenly. Hearing the gunshot in the distance stopped us both cold. Boy, Samantha could stop you cold with her smile!
To immediately or suddenly stop or come to a complete halt. I don't know what happened. The engine was running fine a second ago but then just stopped cold! Both of us stopped cold when we heard the gunshot in the distance.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
stop someone cold
to halt someone immediately. When you told us the bad news, it stopped me cold.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.