cold snap

noun
a sudden onset of a relatively brief period of cold weather.
Also called cold spell.


Origin:
1770–80, Americanism

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
cold snap
 
n
a sudden short spell of cold weather

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

cold snap

Also, cold spell. A short period of unusually cold weather, as in The recent cold snap has threatened the crop. The first expression presumably likens snap in the sense of "a sudden bite or cut" to sudden unexpected cold. The variant is more obvious, spell having been used in the sense of "a bout or turn at something" since the early 1700s. [Early 1800s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
When their predictions turn from cold snap to heat wave, say, it can play havoc
  with the forward price of gas.
Their sudden disappearance may have been caused by a cold snap or ice age and
  their sudden appearance during a warm snap.
Another possibility is that global warming could be contributing to the cold
  snap.
And with a thaw last week, they were waiting again, praying for another cold
  snap.
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