A cold contract usually means that a contract, which makes on most reasonable lines, as the cards lie. You hear people say, "He managed to find a line to go down in a cold contract".

(Note: the meaning could slightly differ based on region etc).

I am curious, how this term came into being. There is a past BBO forums thread: http://www.bridgebase.com/forums/topic/43444-what-is-a-cold-contract/ but that does not seem to help.

Does anyone know the origin of this term?


Official Encyclopedia of Bridge, 6th Edition (2001) lists:

Cold contract: Bridge slang for an easily makeable contract.

Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 8th Edition (c 1980) lists as sense 5 b:

Cold: certain, sure viz The actors knew their lines cold a week before opening.

OED Compact Edition (1928) does not list any comparable sense for the word cold.

  • Thanks, but I am more interested in the origin, rather than the meaning.
    – Aryabhata
    Feb 1 '14 at 2:47
  • @Aryabhata: That would seem to be sense 5.b from Webster's, originating between the 1920's and 1980 during the heydays of Culbertson and Goren. I certainly recall the term being common Bridge slang from the mid-70's in Southern Ontario if memory serves honestly. Feb 1 '14 at 2:52
  • I am guessing it is probably in the 1930s... but perhaps you are right.
    – Aryabhata
    Feb 1 '14 at 3:11

The OED does have a related sense: 'Without preparation, preliminary performance, etc. Usu. quasi-adv. 1896.. "I'm an easy runner till it comes to the high jump and then I quit cold."' It was also apparently used between the wars for plays that opened without a preliminary tryout.

So perhaps a contract that can be made without any preliminary setting up, or having to decide which course is better, fits the description. If you want a more precise answer you could ask on English.SE.


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