Boiling hot, freezing cold, soaking wet and etc are adjective+adjective. So they are compound adjectives. Am I right? Wiktionary says they are idiomatic but I cannot get what is idiomatic? There is also pouring rain that is verb+noun. What is this compound word called too?

Edit: My teacher says boiling in boiling hot act as an adverb. Also he says pouring rain is a set phrase in the following example:

I walked home in the pouring rain and I got soaking wet.

  • I think that wiki wants to imply that these adjectives are usually used with each other.
    – Cardinal
    Jun 18, 2016 at 20:24
  • In their glossary they mention the following: Pertaining or conforming to the mode of expression characteristic of a language. Idioms, collocations and modal verbs are examples of idiomatic language. I reckon it'd be wise to look up the meanings of words/terms you don't know or know only vaguely.
    – user3395
    Jun 18, 2016 at 20:44
  • It's not quite clear what you are asking about. Pouring rain is an idiom.
    – V.V.
    Jun 18, 2016 at 20:46
  • They are all idioms, but I think he's asking about two words which mean have similar meanings being collocated together (is that redundant?)
    – Peter
    Jun 18, 2016 at 23:47
  • From NOAD: idiomatic (adj.) using, containing, or denoting expressions that are natural to a native speaker.
    – J.R.
    Jun 19, 2016 at 1:26

1 Answer 1


Yes, these expressions are idiomatic, but you could also argue that the first word in the pair can be deemed an intensifier.

Grammatically speaking, an intensifier is used to add force or an emotional boost to a word or phrase. Two common and classic intensifiers are very and really, as in:

That was a really good question!

The Grammar Teacher website has a page on adjective intensifiers. The page says:

Certain adjectives have their own ‘special’ intensifiers which are often used with them.

and it offers these examples:

  • bone dry
  • brand new
  • pitch black
  • wide open

If bone dry is an example of a phrase with an adjective intensifier, it stands to reason that soaking wet would be as well. I think freezing cold and boiling hot would also be good examples, particularly when those expressions are not being used in a scientific sense; for example:

It was freezing cold in that movie theater! I wish I had brought a sweater.

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