v. froze (frōz), fro·zen (frōzən), freez·ing, freez·es
a. To pass from the liquid to the solid state by loss of heat.
b. To acquire a surface or coat of ice from cold: The lake froze over in January. Bridges freeze before the adjacent roads.
2. To become clogged or jammed because of the formation of ice: The pipes froze in the basement.
3. To be at that degree of temperature at which ice forms: It may freeze tonight.
4. To be killed or harmed by cold or frost: They almost froze to death. Mulch keeps garden plants from freezing.
5. To be or feel uncomfortably cold: Aren't you freezing without a coat?
a. To become fixed, stuck, or attached by or as if by frost: The lock froze up with rust.
b. To stop functioning properly, usually temporarily: My computer screen froze when I opened the infected program.
a. To become motionless or immobile, as from surprise or attentiveness: I heard a sound and froze in my tracks.
b. To become unable to act or speak, as from fear: froze in front of the audience.
8. To become rigid and inflexible; solidify: an opinion that froze into dogma.
a. To convert into ice.
b. To cause ice to form upon.
c. To cause to congeal or stiffen from extreme cold: winter cold that froze the ground.
2. To preserve (foods, for example) by subjecting to freezing temperatures.
3. To damage, kill, or make inoperative by cold or by the formation of ice.
4. To make very cold; chill.
5. To immobilize, as with fear or shock.
6. To chill with an icy or formal manner: froze me with one look.
7. To stop the motion or progress of: The negotiations were frozen by the refusal of either side to compromise; froze the video in order to discuss the composition of the frame.
a. To fix (prices or wages, for example) at a given or current level.
b. To prohibit further manufacture or use of.
c. To prevent or restrict the exchange, withdrawal, liquidation, or granting of by governmental action: freeze investment loans during a depression; froze foreign assets held by US banks.
9. To anesthetize by chilling.
10. Sports To keep possession of (a ball or puck) so as to deny an opponent the opportunity to score.
a. The act of freezing.
b. The state of being frozen.
2. A spell of cold weather; a frost.
3. A restriction that forbids a quantity from rising above a given or current level: a freeze on city jobs; a proposed freeze on the production of nuclear weapons.
To shut out or exclude, as by cold or unfriendly treatment: The others tried to freeze me out of the conversation.
freeze (someone's) blood
To affect with terror or dread; horrify: a scream that froze my blood.
[Middle English fresen, from Old English frēosan; see preus- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Word History: Describing the landscape of Hell in Book II of Paradise Lost, Milton depicts "a frozen Continent ... beat with perpetual storms ... the parching Air Burns frore, and cold performs th' effect of Fire." It is evident from these lines that frore has some relationship to frozen, but what exactly is it? The Modern English paradigm for the verb freeze is freeze, froze, frozen, with a z throughout. However, in Old English, the principal parts were frēosan, frēas, froren. The r in the past participle froren is from a prehistoric s that became r by Verner's Law, a sound shift that changed s in certain positions into r. (The effects of Verner's Law can also be seen in such Modern English pairs as was and were, and lose and (love-)lorn.) During the Middle English period, a new past participle frosen was created using the s from the first two principal parts; this survives as frozen nowadays. The older participle, spelled froren or frore in Middle English, lived on as a poetic word for "cold," but well before Milton's day it had become archaic in the standard language.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.