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[thaw] /θɔ/
verb (used without object)
to pass or change from a frozen to a liquid or semiliquid state; melt.
to be freed from the physical effect of frost or extreme cold (sometimes followed by out):
Sit by the fire and thaw out.
(of the weather) to become warm enough to melt ice and snow:
It will probably thaw today.
to become less formal, reserved, or aloof:
He thawed at their kindness.
to become less hostile or tense:
International relations thawed.
verb (used with object)
to cause to change from a frozen to a liquid or semiliquid state; melt.
to free from the physical effect of frost or extreme cold; bring to a more normal temperature, especially to room temperature:
I took the steaks out of the freezer and thawed them.
to make less cold, formal, or reserved.
to make less tense or hostile.
the act or process of thawing.
the act or fact of becoming less formal, reserved, or aloof.
a reduction or easing in tension or hostility.
(in winter or in areas where freezing weather is the norm) weather warm enough to melt ice and snow.
a period of such weather:
We had a two-week thaw in January.
the thaw, the first day in the year when ice in harbors, rivers, etc., breaks up or loosens enough to begin flowing to the sea, allowing navigation:
The Anchorage thaw came on May 18th.
Origin of thaw
before 1000; (v.) Middle English thawen, Old English thawian; cognate with Dutch dooien, Old Norse theyja; (noun) late Middle English, derivative of the v.
Related forms
thawless, adjective
rethaw, verb
underthaw, verb
unthawed, adjective
unthawing, adjective
1. See melt1 . 2, 8. warm.
1. freeze. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for thaw out
Historical Examples
  • Bill o' Burnt Bay lumbered down the ladder and made for the forecastle to thaw out.

  • He'll thaw out by degrees: so long as he doesn't blame Clarice, it is all right.

    A Pessimist Robert Timsol
  • Now, I am going to take this fellow and hang him up in the back kitchen where he will thaw out.

  • At each end of the line he stopped to thaw out, but he could have groaned at the anguish of it.

    Sister Carrie Theodore Dreiser
  • In dainty, flimsy outfits, many carrying fairy wands, it was a sight so charming as to thaw out a brass idol!

    Gadsby Ernest Vincent Wright
  • Soon they seemed to thaw out and scampered about as lively as ever.

  • Shorty had become nearly frozen sitting there motionless, and he got up and went to the fire to thaw out.

  • When we got off at Congress my Missus tried to thaw out the party.

    Gullible's Travels, Etc. Ring W. Lardner
  • "Perhaps we'll have to build a fire, to thaw out the ground," suggested John Barrow.

    The Rover Boys In The Mountains Arthur M. Winfield
  • He began to thaw out, though he did not lose his backwardness.

    The Young Pitcher Zane Grey
British Dictionary definitions for thaw out


to melt or cause to melt from a solid frozen state: the snow thawed
to become or cause to become unfrozen; defrost
(intransitive) to be the case that the ice or snow is melting: it's thawing fast
(intransitive) to become more sociable, relaxed, or friendly
the act or process of thawing
a spell of relatively warm weather, causing snow or ice to melt
an increase in relaxation or friendliness
Derived Forms
thawer, noun
thawless, adjective
Word Origin
Old English thawian; related to Old High German douwen to thaw, Old Norse theyja to thaw, Latin tabēre to waste away
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for thaw out



Old English þawian, from Proto-Germanic *thawojanan (cf. Old Norse þeyja, Middle Low German doien, Dutch dooien, Old High German douwen, German tauen "to thaw"), from PIE root *ta- "to melt, dissolve" (cf. Sanskrit toyam "water," Ossetic thayun "to thaw," Welsh tawadd "molten," Doric Greek takein "to melt, waste, be consumed," Old Irish tam "pestilence," Latin tabes "a melting, wasting away, putrefaction," Old Church Slavonic tajati "to melt"). Related: Thawed; thawing.


c.1400, from thaw (v.). Figurative sense of "relaxation of political harshness or hostility" is recorded from 1950, an image from the "Cold War."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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