I came across the phrase "through heat or cold" in the Economist,

Hunting lay at the heart of that doctrine: the virile business of learning to shoot straight, to track beasts through brutal heat or cold and to master “buck fever”—a nervous excitement felt in the face of prey that must be suppressed by effort of will.

I've never seen such an expression before. I guess it means to endure the severe hot or bitter cold weather. Is "through heat or cold" an idiom in English? Are there other expressions with the same meaning?


No, this is not an idiom. This phrase is entirely literal.

In context, it says that the subject of the sentence is learning to hunt animals in severe weather conditions, such as "brutal heat or cold".

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  • I think it's literal too, but the "through x or y" phrasing itself is somewhat limited. As in, I think "through <single adjective>" sounds confusing; it's best to use the construct with lists, or long adjectival phrases. – Senjougahara Hitagi Dec 7 '15 at 10:00
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    @Senjougahara Hitagi: You may have to track the beast through jungle would be fine. through does not require a list, merely a complement that supports the notion of progress, physical or figurative. We can even persist "through difficulty". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 7 '15 at 10:55
  • @Senjougahara Hitagi It's perfectly good English. The single adjective "brutal" clearly applies to both "heat" and "cold". If I said "give me a green pen or pencil", you're looking for a green pen or a green pencil. – Graham Dec 7 '15 at 13:48

It should technically mean "No matter what". It might share the same meaning as the English idiom:

Rain or shine,

which means "irrespective of".

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    Rain or shine is an idiom, but the phrase as used in the question is literal. – Jon Story Dec 7 '15 at 15:33
  • Also "Through thick and thin". – user27366 Dec 7 '15 at 15:51
  • "Rain or shine" doesn't really mean "relentless", but more like "without exception" or "no matter what" (as you mention). – BruceWayne Dec 7 '15 at 17:20
  • While I think it has some flavor of "no matter what" ("come hell or high water"), I also think the choice of words is literal as well, meaning "in any kind of weather conditions." – BobRodes Dec 7 '15 at 19:10

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