Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!
(one's) comfort zone
1. A place, activity, situation, or psychological state in which a person feels free from anxiety and is within their normal level of ability, experience, security, or control. Though it is often outside your comfort zone, traveling to foreign countries gives you a much greater perspective on how other people in the world live. The new job is a little out of my comfort zone, but it will give me a great opportunity to see what I'm truly capable of. Going on a blind date is definitely not in my comfort zone, but I'm tired of being alone.
2. The temperature range wherein one's body feels naturally comfortable, being neither too hot nor too cold. Many retired Americans, being more sensitive to the cold, settle in Florida, where the balmy weather better suits their comfort zones. Thank you for turning the heat up—this is more like my comfort zone. A: "I think Tammy's internal thermostat must be broken." B: "I know, her comfort zone is way colder than mine, which is a problem, since we live together!"
a beam of (something)
informal A small but steadfast amount or source of something hopeful or positive. My lovely daughter has been a beam of joy in such a trying year of hardship. The charity is the sole beam of comfort to the many people displaced by war who have been reduced to such squalid conditions. I always thought baseball was boring, but I started following along this year, and the games have been a beam of happiness and excitement!
be cold comfort
To fail as an intended source of solace. The news that I got a meager raise is cold comfort after not getting that big promotion. The fact that it's "stage one" is cold comfort to me—it's still cancer!
Something that has failed as an intended source of solace. The news that I got a meager raise is cold comfort after not getting that big promotion. The fact that it's "stage one" is cold comfort to me—it's still cancer!
euphemism A break to urinate or defecate; a bathroom break. I need a comfort break, so I'll be right back.
Particular dishes or food items that are meant to ease emotional pain upon consumption, as by reminding one of home or childhood. Often, such food is high in calories or carbohydrates. Did Mom make mac and cheese tonight? I'm definitely in need of some comfort food. What's your favorite comfort food? Mine is poutine.
slang A woman or girl forced into sexual slavery or recruited into prostitution by and in service of the Japanese Imperial Army before and during World War II. Although the Japanese government officially admitted to its role in coercing women to become comfort girls during the Second World War, there are still many who deny how many women were affected and the extent to which the government was responsible at the time.
A public bathroom. I sure hope there's a comfort station at this next rest stop!
comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable
To provide aid or support to those in need, while prompting those in positions of power or luxury to act in more ethical ways. Adapted from the writing of humorist Finley Peter Dunne as the fictional character "Mr. Dooley." It is our professional duty as journalists to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable—by exposing the faults of the rich and powerful while acting as the voice of the impoverished and disenfranchised. I've always believed that the church should always strive to be comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. After all, "A man’s riches may ransom his life, but a poor man hears no threat."
slang A woman or girl forced into sexual slavery or recruited into prostitution by and in service of the Japanese Imperial Army before and during World War II. Although the Japanese government officially admitted to its role in coercing women to become comfort women during the Second World War, there are still many who deny how many were affected and the extent to which the government was responsible at the time.
Things that one needs in order to feel happy and comfortable. I have a hard time abandoning my creature comforts to go hiking and camping. At a minimum, I need running water!
Solace in the idea that something could be worse than it is. The reasoning behind the use of "Dutch" here is unclear and potentially offensive. Thanks for the Dutch comfort, but unless you want to hire me or pay all my bills while I'm unemployed, things are legitimately terrible.
in (one's) comfort zone
1. In a place, activity, situation, or psychological state in which a person feels free from anxiety and is within their normal level of ability, experience, security, or control. I know it's not in your comfort zone, but traveling to a foreign country can give you a much better perspective on how other people in the world live. I've been in my comfort zone for way too long with this job. It's time to take some risks and see what else is out there for me!
2. Within the temperature range that feels naturally comfortable to a person's body, being neither too hot nor too cold. When I retire, I'm definitely moving to Florida. The balmy weather there is more in my comfort zone than Minnesota, that's for sure.
rather close for comfort
1. So physically close as to cause worry. Typically used of dangerous or unwelcome things. The way these planes fly so low over the house is rather close for comfort, don't you think? My neighbors and I all feel that the new shopping center they're planning near our neighborhood is rather close for comfort.
2. So narrow a margin as to increase the risk of error or deviation. Having only $20 in your bank account is rather close for comfort, if you ask me.
take comfort in (something)
To be soothed or calmed by something. I know this trial has been tremendously hard on you, but take comfort in the fact that the man responsible is now behind bars forever. When things get tough, I take comfort in the company of my closest friends.
A phrase used to soothe one who is upset. There, there, sweetie. Everything is going to be OK.
See also: there
too (something) for comfort
Having more of some quality or trait than one would like or is comfortable with. Used especially in the phrase "too close for comfort." The way these planes fly so low over the house is just too close for comfort. Though the company seems to be doing well, some analysts are actually worried that its stocks are climbing too fast for comfort and could indicate a sudden sharp decrease.
too close for comfort
1. So physically close as to cause concern. Typically used of dangerous or unwelcome things. The way these planes fly so low over the house is just too close for comfort. My neighbors and I all feel that the new shopping center they're planning near our neighborhood is a little too close for comfort.
2. Too narrow a margin for error or deviation. Having only $20 in your bank account is far too close for comfort, if you ask me.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
no comfort or consolation at all. She knows there are others worse off than her, but that's cold comfort. It was cold comfort to the student that others had failed as he had done.
things that make people comfortable. The hotel room was a bit small, but all the creature comforts were there.
There, there.and There, now.
an expression used to comfort someone. There, there. You'll feel better after you take a nap. There, now. Everything will be all right.
See also: there
too close for comfort
Cliché [for a misfortune or a threat] to be dangerously close. That car nearly hit me! That was too close for comfort. When I was in the hospital, I nearly died from pneumonia. Believe me, that was too close for comfort.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Slight or no consolation. For example, He can't lend us his canoe but will tell us where to rent one-that's cold comfort. The adjective cold was being applied to comfort in this sense by the early 1300s, and Shakespeare used the idiom numerous times.
Something that contributes to physical comfort, such as food, clothing, or housing. For example, Dean always stayed in the best hotels; he valued his creature comforts. This idiom was first recorded in 1659.
too close for comfort
Also, too close to home. Dangerously nearby or accurate, as in That last shot was too close for comfort, or Their attacks on the speaker hit too close to home, and he left in a huff.
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.
COMMON If a fact or statement is cold comfort to someone in a difficult situation, it does not make them feel less worried or sad. `Three years in higher education is a good investment for the future,' he says. But that is cold comfort to graduates who have worked so hard to get a degree, and now find themselves unemployed.
too close/high, etc. for comfort
COMMON If something is too close/high, etc. for comfort, it is closer/higher, etc. than you would like it to be or than is safe. The bombs fell in the sea, many too close for comfort. Levels of crime were still too high for comfort.
Creature comforts are all the modern sleeping, eating, and washing facilities that make life easy and pleasant. Each room has its own patio or balcony and provides guests with all modern creature comforts. I'm not a camper — I like my creature comforts too much. Note: An old meaning of `creatures' is material comforts, or things that make you feel comfortable.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
too close for comfortdangerously or uncomfortably near.
cold comfortpoor or inadequate consolation.
This expression, together with the previous idiom, reflects a traditional view that charity is often given in a perfunctory or uncaring way. The words cold (as the opposite of ‘encouraging’) and comfort have been associated since the early 14th century, but perhaps the phrase is most memorably linked for modern readers with the title of Stella Gibbons 's 1933 parody of sentimental novels of rural life, Cold Comfort Farm.
too — for comfortcausing physical or mental unease by an excess of the specified quality.
1994 Janice Galloway Foreign Parts They were all too at peace with themselves, too untroubled for comfort.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
too close for ˈcomfortso near that you become afraid or anxious: The exams are getting a bit too close for comfort.
ˌcold ˈcomforta thing that is intended to make you feel better but which does not: When you’ve just had your car stolen, it’s cold comfort to be told it happens to somebody every day.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
1. n. a restroom; toilet facilities available to the public. (Euphemistic.) We need to stop and find a comfort station in the next town.
2. n. an establishment that sells liquor. Let’s get some belch at a comfort station along here somewhere.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
close call/shave, a
A narrow escape, a near miss. Both phrases are originally American. The first dates from the 1880s and is thought to come from sports, where a close call was a decision by an umpire or referee that could have gone either way. A close shave is from the early nineteenth century and reflects the narrow margin between smoothly shaved skin and a nasty cut from the razor. Both were transferred to mean any narrow escape from danger. Incidentally, a close shave was in much earlier days equated with miserliness. Erasmus’s 1523 collection of adages has it, “He shaves right to the quick,” meaning he makes the barber give him a very close shave so that he will not need another for some time. Two synonymous modern clichés are too close for comfort and too close to home.
That’s little or no consolation. “Colde watz his cumfort,” reads a poem of unknown authorship written about 1325. The alliterative phrase appealed to Shakespeare, who used it a number of times (in King John, The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew). It acquired cliché status by about 1800. Stella Gibbons used it in the title of her humorous book Cold Comfort Farm (1932).
Life’s material amenities. The term dates from the seventeenth century; it appears in Thomas Brooks’s Collected Works (1670), and again in Matthew Henry’s 1710 Commentaries on the Psalms (“They have . . . the sweetest relish of their creature comforts”).
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
Offering limited sympathy or encouragement. People who lost their jobs during the recession would likely take cold comfort from economic reports that an upturn was likely to occur in the future. Shakespeare used the phrase in King John: “I do not ask you much, I beg cold comfort; and you are so strait / And so ingrateful, you deny me that.”
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price