have cold feet

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have cold feet

To experience nervousness or anxiety before one attempts to do something, often to the extent that one tries to avoid it. I wasn't nervous until the morning of my wedding, but everyone assured me that I just had cold feet. Good luck getting her out on stage—she always has cold feet before a performance.
See also: cold, feet, have

get/have cold ˈfeet

(informal) no longer want to continue what you intended or have started to do because you are nervous or afraid: Do you still want to do this parachute jump or are you getting cold feet? OPPOSITE: take the plunge
See also: cold, feet, get, have

cold feet, to get/have

To be timid; to back off from some undertaking. This expression appears to date from the nineteenth century, at least in its present meaning. In the early seventeenth century it was an Italian proverb that meant to have no money; it was so used by Ben Jonson in his play Volpone. The source of the more recent meaning is obscure. Some believe it comes from soldiers retreating in battle because their feet are frozen. Another source cites a German novel of 1862 in which a card player withdraws from a game because, he claims, his feet are cold.
See also: cold, get, have