Definition of thaw in US English:



[no object]
  • 1(of ice, snow, or another frozen substance, such as food) become liquid or soft as a result of warming.

    ‘the river thawed and barges of food began to reach the capital’
    • ‘There's never a reason to leave food thawing on the counter.’
    • ‘When the ice thawed, the Messerschmitt sank and remained at the bottom of the lake until recovered by Pearce.’
    • ‘Jack was already making his way across the lawn towards the lake, which had thawed out in the warmer weather.’
    • ‘Whether it's global warming or just Klondike weirdness, the Klondike River thawed and rose 2 metres in December.’
    • ‘On one occasion we were snowed in and the four boys all had chicken pox so we moved out to a rented cottage in Roxburgh until the snow thawed.’
    • ‘And any remaining snow is likely to thaw - swelling already brimming rivers - as record high temperatures are also predicted.’
    • ‘Add the frozen vegetables, garlic and ginger and cook for two minutes, until the vegetables thaw.’
    • ‘Tightly wrap meat, poultry and fish so the juices don't drip on other food as they thaw in the refrigerator.’
    • ‘But closer study at the nearby University of Alaska revealed an assortment of bacterial cells, many of which came to life as soon as the ice thawed.’
    • ‘Thankfully two weeks later, after the snow had thawed, they happily celebrated their wedding anniversary among family and friends.’
    • ‘Or they abandoned ship altogether and slogged to shore, hoping to regain their vessels when the ice thawed.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, it is hoped temperatures will rise for long enough to allow the snow and ice to thaw before the next freeze sets in.’
    • ‘If you're using a frozen vegetable package from the store, turn the heat up a bit so that the vegetables thaw and the flavour can infuse itself into the vegetables.’
    • ‘When I left the hospital, the snow was already thawing, and water dripped from roofs and gutters everywhere.’
    • ‘Lily bulbs can go into the ground as soon as the soil has thawed.’
    • ‘The crunch-crunch of the icy grass is music to my ears, as I walk on it before the frost has thawed.’
    • ‘Shackleton and his 28-man crew waited, immobilized, in the hope that the ice would eventually thaw, but after ten months the ship was destroyed by ice pressure.’
    • ‘Foods which are still partially frozen or have thawed but are still cold to the touch (40 degrees or lower) can safely be refrozen.’
    • ‘I am aware that mastodons once walked where I walk, that the seemingly solid ground under my feet has frozen and thawed (and will re-freeze and re-thaw) over eons.’
    • ‘Waxy starch gels form a paste at lower temperatures, swell with more water than regular or partially waxy starches, and don't lose water during freezing and thawing.’
    1. 1.1it thaws", "it is thawing, etc. The weather becomes warmer and melts snow and ice.
      • ‘Today was much warmer and consequently it thawed and roads became very muddy, just as if a heavy rain had fallen.’
      • ‘But of the state of the pitch, he recalls: ‘During the week, it had snowed, then thawed and then frozen again and there was ice under all that water on the surface.’’
      melt, unfreeze, soften, liquefy, dissolve
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2with object Make (something) warm enough to become liquid or soft.
      ‘European exporters simply thawed their beef before unloading’
      • ‘Trufresh, a Connecticut company, has found that its lobsters sometimes come back to life after they've been frozen and then thawed.’
      • ‘Tissues stored in liquid nitrogen were thawed at room temperature.’
      • ‘The sun's gentle rays were thawing the winter ice. Nature was just beginning to blossom, after a period of dormancy.’
      • ‘Any leftover soup can be frozen and thawed to enjoy on a winter afternoon.’
      • ‘Start thawing the turkey and avoid the biggest Christmas nightmare of all - food poisoning.’
      • ‘Now, Kyra, most of the questions are about fairly basic things like what's a safe way to thaw a turkey, what's a good way to roast turkey.’
      • ‘Frozen vegetables with a high water content tend to collapse and turn mushy when thawed unless cooked before freezing.’
      • ‘They were then thawed, their soft tissues removed, dried in an oven at 60°C for 72 hours and weighed.’
      • ‘They are then taken to the preparation area, where they are thawed and labelled.’
      • ‘To use, thaw the dough in the fridge until it is soft enough to handle.’
      • ‘Do not refreeze thawed cheese since the eating quality will be poor.’
      • ‘If you use a microwave to thaw or warm baby food, be sure to stir the food well to avoid hot pockets.’
      • ‘After the treatment, the ovarian tissue was thawed and implanted back into her pelvis.’
      • ‘Freezing and thawing raw fish will be the death of sushi and sashimi as we know it.’
      • ‘We put the mince in the sink to thaw it out, and I didn't use all the meat.’
      • ‘When the disease surfaced in the Central Kentucky Thoroughbred community in May 1984, the vaccine was thawed and distributed.’
      • ‘If they are not thawed properly harmful bugs will survive the cooking process.’
      • ‘The best way to thaw a frozen chicken is not in the microwave, but in the refrigerator or in cold water.’
      • ‘The most successful of Clarence Birdseye's inventions, aside from frozen food, was appropriately enough, an infra-red heating lamp for thawing it.’
      • ‘Two years later, the cancer treatment having proved a success, the tissue was thawed and reimplanted.’
    3. 1.3 (of a part of the body) become warm enough to stop feeling numb.
      ‘Ryan began to feel his ears and toes thaw out’
      • ‘Dylan stays only long enough for his legs to thaw and then leaves.’
      • ‘I squeezed in between two people and let my fingers and toes thaw out.’
    4. 1.4 Make or become friendlier or more cordial.
      no object ‘she thawed out sufficiently to allow a smile to appear’
      • ‘These relations thawed somewhat with the conclusion of formal hostilities in Korea and the death of Joseph Stalin.’
      • ‘By 1985, it had been 30 years since Gillespie's last visit to the island, and finally the political mood had thawed enough to allow another trip to take place.’
      • ‘Max had finally thawed out again, and he smiled, and said, ‘Such zealotry for your country.’’
      • ‘In the Gorbachev era, relations thawed somewhat as high officials exchanged visits and the Soviet Union reduced its Far East nuclear forces and troops, but fundamental differences remained unchanged when the Soviet Union dissolved.’
      become friendlier, become more genial, become more sociable, loosen up, relax, become more relaxed
      View synonyms


  • 1A period of warmer weather that thaws ice and snow.

    ‘the thaw came yesterday afternoon’
    • ‘Inevitably the cold snap was followed by the big thaw, several inches of snow disappearing in a matter of hours on New Year's Eve, and the floods were soon with us once again.’
    • ‘Despite a thaw in the weather, the road remained closed until the signs and bollards were removed and dumped at the roadside.’
    • ‘It took five weeks for a significant thaw to take effect and remnants of the snow remained in the mountain ravines for several months.’
    • ‘Meanwhile the big thaw and heavy rainfall left North Yorkshire drivers tackling roads covered in water.’
    • ‘These instruments sense the electrical properties of water in the landscape, allowing scientists to determine exactly when and where the springtime thaw occurs.’
    • ‘She skated, not seeing the other skaters around her as she wove among them, but seeing again the dark pine forest that lay in the lower mountains in the north of Alresh, where she had skated last, just before the spring thaw.’
    • ‘The thaw will continue today and tomorrow, according to Steve Randall, a Met Office forecaster.’
    • ‘A vast expanse of western Siberia is undergoing an unprecedented thaw that could dramatically increase the rate of global warming, climate scientists warned yesterday.’
    • ‘After a lapse of some weeks a gradual thaw commenced, but due to the volume of snow to be disposed of, opening of roads to transport was delayed and it was several weeks before normal travel could be resumed.’
    • ‘Mid-March did not see the thaw in the weather that people had hoped for.’
    • ‘Were you fully aware that some frogs in Europe and North America routinely freeze in winter and return to life with the spring thaw?’
    • ‘‘If we had say four inches of snow up in the dales, followed by a thaw and heavy rainfall, that would put our flood defences to a severe test,’ admits John.’
    • ‘He had gone with Keith to paint in the Yosemite Valley when the spring thaw had swollen the famous waterfalls.’
    • ‘The thaw after heavy snowfall meant that plumbers were inundated with calls to repair burst pipes.’
    • ‘As they brace themselves for the big thaw following this week's snowfall, the people of York might not have needed a reminder of flooding.’
    • ‘Weather forecasters said a thaw would get under way today.’
    • ‘But such is the capricious side to April's weather that the sun shone the following day and a rapid thaw set in turning the snow-laden streets into water courses.’
    • ‘However, by tomorrow snow is expected to turn to rain as the thaw begins.’
    • ‘The plants' cell walls will thicken, which helps keep them from bursting during freezes and thaws.’
    • ‘Later on in the morning, when it was clear that the snow flurries had finished and that a slight thaw was setting in, I got tired of sitting at the window looking out.’
    • ‘The thaw had made it too warm for snow, and so rain began to fall instead, cold and stinging.’
    1. 1.1 An increase in friendliness or cordiality.
      ‘a thaw in relations between the two countries’
      • ‘Stalin's death, the rise of a new leadership, and the end of the Korean war seemed to augur a thaw in US-Soviet relations.’
      • ‘The thaw in relations also removed a three-year ban on bilateral sporting events in October 2003.’
      • ‘A thaw in the frosty relationship between the two countries looks remote.’
      • ‘Almost three years later, the hopes for a thaw in relations raised by his visit are finally being realized.’
      • ‘So the recent thaw in North-South relations, while encouraging, doesn't change his mind.’
      • ‘The series is being revived after a recent thaw in relations between the two countries.’
      • ‘He added that after a slow thaw in relations which began last year, it was only now that the Sudanese information was being properly examined for the first time.’
      • ‘In 2000, the Indian government banned all home and away cricket against Pakistan but the policy was changed in 2003 after a thaw in relations.’
      • ‘By yesterday things were brightening up weatherwise, but there was still no sign of a thaw in relations with locals.’
      • ‘But for now, a thaw in Cuban-American relations remains a pipe dream.’
      • ‘And now, in the light of the recent thaw in relations between Libya and the West, Scotland Yard detectives have agreed to carry her plea to the ears of the dictator.’
      • ‘The signs of a thaw in US relations with these and other countries point to a different approach emerging in Washington.’
      • ‘But the sudden thaw in relations between the two sides could not guarantee that the eight-day strike planned to start on Friday would be called off.’
      • ‘Not only does this help US commanders but it could herald a thaw in the relationship with Moscow.’
      • ‘There is a hopeful precedent: the 1999 earthquakes that affected both countries led to a thaw in relations between them.’
      • ‘The organizers had hoped to get the two leaders to build on the thaw in their relations that began some two weeks ago in Abuja.’
      • ‘One can only hope that the recent thaw in Indo-Pakistan relations will usher in a new era on the sub-continent.’
      • ‘Maddie might soon swing back to being emotionally distant, but the current thaw in their relations is a positive beginning.’
      • ‘There had been something of a thaw in relations between democrats and Beijing recently.’
      • ‘Since the June summit, a flurry of private and official talks between the two Koreas has produced a thaw in relations.’
      • ‘The North-South thaw has produced a groundswell of positive sentiment in Korea, bitterly divided for so long.’


Old English thawian (verb), of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch dooien. The noun (first recorded in Middle English) developed its figurative use in the mid 19th century.