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I looked at the example sentences for the noun "cold" where it is used with the meaning "low temperature/cold weather" on dictionaries like Cambridge and Collins; and in all of them, after "with", "cold" is used instead of "the cold". So, I wonder if it is wrong to say

"My hands are shaking with the cold"

"His feet were numb with the cold" etc.

instead of

"My hands are shaking with cold"

"His feet were numb with cold" etc.

What do you think? I guess it is more idiomatic to not use "the", and "with cold" is the proper idiomatic phrase in all cases.

A couple of example sentences from the dictionaries:

"My feet were numb with cold"

"His feet were blue with cold"

"He shivered with cold"

2 Answers 2

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Idiomatically, you'd just say "with cold". It emphasizes the severity of the condition in American English.

My feet were numb with cold.

If you're trying to lighten the tone, you would say "from the cold". It is a lesser degree of cold because the cold is not being internalized to your feet.

My feet were numb from the cold.

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  • Good points re the cold. from the cold [of winter]
    – Lambie
    Sep 25, 2019 at 14:37
  • I see. Thank you, JRodge01. Sep 25, 2019 at 21:50
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    I don't see a difference of intensity, but I agree that with cold connotes that the cold is an attribute of the feet while with the cold attaches it to the environment. I cannot say why. Sep 29, 2019 at 23:30
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"His feet were numb with the cold" - This is not wrong, and is in fact idiomatic.

JRodge01 correctly states that the usage of "...with cold" is idiomatic, and I say, so is the other version; they differ in how commonly one is used over the other.

The phrase "numb with cold" is more often used than "numb with the cold" (see Ngram). Both phrases can be used for the same context. The following examples make proper use of the "the" version, which shows that "numb with the cold" is also idiomatic.

Her clothes were waterlogged, and her hands were numb with the cold. - The Loch Ness Monster, by Jean Flitcroft.

With Arnaud's arms wrapped around Maury and Melanie who both dozed, it was impossible for him to sleep, his hands were almost numb with the cold and lack of movement. - The Cathar Prophecy, by Mark J. T. Griffin .

She was comparatively dry, but she was numb with the cold. - The Sea-Wolf, by Jack London.

My toes would just go numb with the cold. - Home Run: Great RAF Escapes of World War II, by Richard Townshend Bickers.

When he came around in the early hours of Sunday morning his hands and feet were numb with the cold but he managed to drag himself as high up on the sea ledge as he could.

My feet were so frozen that they remained numb with the cold until halfway through the race. - Financial Times.

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  • You misunderstood my answer. I'm saying "with cold/with the cold" implies a more severe numbness than "numb from cold/from the cold".
    – JRodge01
    Sep 30, 2019 at 17:45
  • @JRodge01 Ahh... I apologize, you are right, I misunderstood. I will edit my answer shortly. Thanks for the comment, I ^ your answer.
    – AIQ
    Oct 1, 2019 at 16:40

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