Cold Comfort

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Meaning of Idiom 'Cold Comfort'

When something is said to be cold comfort, it is little or no consolation at all. 1, 2, 3

Usage

"The severance package was cold comfort after having worked for the company for twenty years."

"I know it's cold comfort," said Fran, "but Millie isn't doing so well either."

Origin

Here, cold is used in the sense of "unemotional." Cold has been used to juxtapose comfort in this way since the 1300's, and Shakespeare used the idiom often. 1

The expression may be familiar to some from a 1933 parody novel by Stella Gibbons, "Cold Comfort Farm." 3

Sources
1. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
3. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.

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