cold sweat



cold sweat (plural cold sweats)

  1. Perspiration which feels chilly to the person perspiring, and which indicates debilitating illness, shock, or the experiencing of an intense emotion such as despair, anxiety, or, especially, fear.
    • 1798, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, part 4:
      . . .
      And the dead were at my feet.
      The cold sweat melted from their limbs,
      Ne rot, ne reek did they;
      The look with which they look'd on me,
      Had never pass'd away.
    • 1839, Charles Dickens, chapter 22, in Oliver Twist:
      He clasped his hands together, and involuntarily uttered a subdued exclamation of horror. A mist came before his eyes; the cold sweat stood upon his ashy face.
    • 1889, H. Rider Haggard, chapter 2, in Cleopatra:
      [T]he great fear grew on me till the cold sweat ran from my brow and my soul was faint within me.
    • 1915, Zane Grey, chapter 12, in The Lone Star Ranger:
      The leader of the hounds broke into cry again, a deep, full-toned, ringing bay, strange, ominous, terribly significant in its power. It caused a cold sweat to ooze out all over Duane's body.
    • 2008 Oct. 9, James Saft, "The current crisis is only the beginning," New York Times (retrieved 16 July 2013):
      One could argue that the banking crisis is just the cold sweat, not the flu that follows it