I found "strike into the marrow" in one book The Journey by Clyde V. Collard (here)

May I enter from out this penetrating night whose chill strikes me to the marrow?

This phrase can mean that bad weather outside, including a biting wind, a steady drizzle,dank and dark streets has both physical and psychological adverse effects on somebody.

I get 8-10 hits on Google for this phrase.

  • 4
    First, note that the preposition used in your quote is to, rather than into. Yes, the phrase "strikes me to the marrow [of my bones]" is perfectly good figurative English. That said, it's simply a sentence: a well-ordered series of words that conveys meaning. It is not, however, a common or standard or set phrase, as, for example, "chilled me to my bones" is.
    – Dan Bron
    May 1, 2015 at 11:09
  • books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – TimR
    May 1, 2015 at 13:33
  • Thanks for the comments. I typed 'into the marrow' into the Google search box and ngrams.
    – user18856
    May 1, 2015 at 13:47
  • 1
    In a word, yes (link is to a google search on Project Gutenberg), though that's "chilled him to the marrow". Search up a few other turns of the phrase at Gutenberg and you'll see it's fairly common just as you've read it. This 2011 fantasy book is just trying to sound old -- the phrase is much more common in 19th century and earlier works (imo).
    – ruffin
    May 1, 2015 at 21:30

2 Answers 2


The more common phrase is to be chilled to the bone:

be chilled to the bone

be chilled to the bone/marrow
to be very cold After an hour standing at the bus stop I was chilled to the bone.

It can be used to refer to either a literal chill (as in the quoted example) or a figurative one: I heard an eerie howl that chilled me to the bone. (Note that the "to the bone" part is figurative either way.)

Marrow here means bone marrow, so it's just saying that the speaker was (figuratively) chilled not only down to the bone, but to the very centre of those bones.

As for the striking part, it's a figurative way of saying that the speaker was pierced by or penetrated by the cold.


The phrase "to the marrow" does not just refer to being cold though, it is used to describe anything that gets to metaphorical core of the subject.

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