What Does “Cool As A Cucumber” Mean? How To Use It Properly?

what does cool as a cucumber mean

Let’s say someone tells you that you are “as cool as a cucumber.” They emphasize that you are very relaxed and calm, especially when they would not expect you to be.

The idiomatic expression “cool as a cucumber” means someone is very relaxed, calm. It is being composed, unruffled and self-possessed, especially when this is surprising. Someone not worried about a challenge or an event. People use it in spoken and written English in a social setting.

Meanings Of The Idiomatic Expression “Cool As A Cucumber”

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It all comes down to remaining relaxed and calm in the middle of turmoil. Here are some additional meanings to the phrase.

  • To be tremendously tranquil.
  • To be undisturbed by any action or temperature.
  • To be very relaxed and calm, mainly when it is something astonishing.
  • To indicate a controlled or leveled composure when facing a challenging event.

Origin Of Phrase “Cool As A Cucumber”

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Did you know? The inside of a cucumber is almost 20 degrees cooler than the outside air? Well, this could be the origin of this idiomatic expression.

This common idiom comes from the cool and refreshing attributes of cucumber. Cucumbers are always fresh, calm, and green. The inside of cucumbers stays fresher than the air, even in hot weather. So the simile is formed by referring to the coldness of cucumbers. Mostly made of water, cucumbers are cool to the touch.

But the meaning of the word “cool” in the expression doesn’t indicate a low temperature. It means to be undisturbed, self-confident, and calm.

British poet John Gay recorded the phrase for the first time in verse. In 1732, he wrote the poem ‘New Song on New Similies’:

My passion is as mustard strong;

I sit all sober, sad;

Drunk as a piper all day long,

Or like a March-hare mad.

Round as a hoop, the bumpers flow;

I drink, yet can’t forget her;

For, though as drunk as David’s sow,

I love her still the better.

Pert as a pear-monger I’d be,

If Molly were but kind;

Cool as a cucumber could see

The rest of the womankind.

How People Use The Phrase

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The phrase is used broadly in a social context.

Often, we talk about people who are upset or angry as being hot. When we get upset, our breathing slowly increases. Also, our bodies pump more blood. Then pressure rises and so on. But when we are relaxed and calm, we have regular heartbeats. We aren’t worried, and we’re not upset.

People use it to describe someone who is very calm, with no worries, someone who is not affected by pressure. Maybe the best idiomatic expression for a confident person.

It refers to a person who can stay calm or keep his/her head on straight. To describe someone who can think clearly, instead of getting nervous or confused under pressure.

Examples Sentences Of The Phrase “Cool As A Cucumber”

Let’s see some examples to see how we can use this idiom daily.

  • He was cool as a cucumber before the interview because he was well prepared.
  • Despite the mishap, James was cool as a cucumber.
  • We can hardly be held responsible for Iris waltzing in, cool as a cucumber, and demanding thousands of pounds.
  • Maria kept as cool as a cucumber as the newspaper reporters shouted questions at her at once.
  • It was a crucial meeting, but she stayed cool as a cucumber because she knew her product was the best.
  • Sammy was petrified to take the stage, but Ursula was as cool as a cucumber.
  • It’s not everyone who can keep as cool as a cucumber in a crisis.
  • Kylie, dressed in light pink leggings, a shirt, and a black denim jacket, looks cool as a cucumber.
  • Amazingly, Elba never shows her emotions, even when she has a lot of problems. She’s cool as a cucumber.
  • And now, here was this girl standing by the big pool, as cool as a cucumber and wearing her helmet.
  • Ryan used to get so nervous before presentations. But after practicing deep breathing techniques, he is as cool as a cucumber.
  • What an outstanding athlete! Benjamin is as cool as a cucumber when he does the most difficult acrobats on the balance beam.
  • Leah was cool as a cucumber under the bed.
  • Adele was cool as a cucumber when all that went down.

Synonyms “Cool As A Cucumber”

  • Cool
  • Calm
  • Collected
  • Composed
  • Level-headed
  • Unflappable
  • Unflustered
  • Unexcitable
  • Imperturbable
  • Even-tempered
  • Gentle
  • Serene
  • Quiet
  • Tranquil
  • Self-possessed
  • Hushed
  • Equable
  • Poised
  • Irenic
  • Restful
  • Still
  • Button-down
  • Cool-blooded
  • Very calm
  • Cool-headed
  • Even-tempered
  • Passionless
  • Unperturbed
  • Well-balanced
  • Very relaxed
  • Carefree
  • Chilled
  • Cold-livered
  • Cold-minded

Antonyms “Cool As A Cucumber”

  • Agitated
  • Disturbed
  • Turbulent
  • Clamorous
  • Noisy
  • Violent
  • Wild
  • Excited
  • Troubled
  • Irritated
  • Raging 
  • Ferocious
  • Exasperated
  • Uncontrolled
  • Demented
  • Rough
  • Frenzied
  • Furious
  • Rabid
  • Fierce
  • Crazy
  • Irate
  • Wrathful
  • Insane
  • Angry as a bear
  • Barbarous
  • Angry as a bull
  • Foolish
  • Loony
  • Irrational
  • Senseless
  • Wacky

Nearby Phrases Of “Cool As A Cucumber”

  • As broad as it is long
  • As concerns
  • As clear as a bell
  • As distinct from
  • As different as chalk and cheese
  • As dull as ditchwater
  • At (your) leisure
  • Calm and relaxed
  • Easy come, easy go
  • Be at peace with the world
  • Without a care in the world
  • Nonchalant
  • At ease
  • Laid-back
  • At one with
  • Free-flowing
  • Nervelessly
  • Mellow
  • Equilibrium
  • Easy-going
  • Unstressed
  • Peacefully

Cool As A Cucumber: Quotes In Different Aspects

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The Idiom “Cool As A Cucumber” In Books

  • Cool as A Cucumber by Michael Morpurgo
  • Cool as a Cucumber (The Absurd Tales of Mr. Griffs) by Jonathan Joseph and Keren Joseph
  • Cool as a Cucumber: A Farce, in One Act by W. Blanchard Jerrold

The Idiom “Cool As A Cucumber” In Famous Songs

There are a few songs that include this common idiomatic expression as part of their lyrics. Let’s look at a few.

  • Beastie Boys, in their song “So whatcha want.” 

I’m as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce 

you’ve got the rhyme and reason

  • The Ink Spots, in their song “Keep Cool, Fool.”

Keep cool, oh keep cool, fooler

Keep cool, and don’t break the ruler

Keep cool, act like the cucumber

  • Peter Michael Jr., in his song “She’s so cool.”

She’s so cool; she’s cool

She’s so cool, like a cucumber

She’s so cool; she’s really cool

The Idiom “Cool As A Cucumber” In TV Series Or Movies

On the TV Series “Below Deck Mediterranean,” on the episode “Cool as a Cucumber.” This episode’s plot is the following:

After a noisy night in Ibiza, Rob and Jess are having struggles to reconcile. During docking, a mechanical error has Captain Sandy scrambling to avoid a disaster. At the same time, the guests of the new charter arrange a bet with Bugsy. This action threatens to strip the crew. In the meantime, a guest asks a sleep-deprived Tom to be sent over the edge by a guest.

Also, in the 2008 movie “Pineapple Express,” the actor quotes “Chill as a cucumber.” This use is an alternative phrase to the original idiom.

  • Why don’t you follow his lead and just chill out, man?
  • I’m chill. I’m chill as a cucumber, man.

Conclusion

Some people disagree with the meaning of someone being calm in general. Some believe that the idiom “cool as a cucumber” is more specific. Specific to difficult situations, but not necessarily dangerous. For those, it describes the behavior a person may have at a point in time. But not in general.

It is still a very interesting and useful expression. Idioms are always a great way to get you to the next level. They help you sound more knowledgeable. And the idiomatic expression “as cool as a cucumber” is not the exception to the rule.

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By Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.