cold open

noun

variants or less commonly cold opening
plural cold opens also cold openings
: a scene of a film or television episode that precedes the title sequence or opening credits and that typically takes place in medias res
Cold opens are a bold move in any medium. When a movie or TV show drops the audience into its world without so much as a "here's the title," it speaks to a confidence that whatever's about to happen on screen is sufficient enough to immerse, intrigue, and otherwise hook them.Alexis Nedd
For fans of NBC's "The Office," the cold open from season five's "Casual Friday"—where Kevin spills his famous chili—is one of the show's most beloved scenes.Addy Bink
The film lost me right from the overacted cold openingAlexa Chipman

Examples of cold open in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Mother’s Day 2024 Cold Open Just as SNL did in its Mother’s Day show five years ago, this episode went without a topical cold open, diving right into some sweet, funny familial bonding. Joe Berkowitz, Vulture, 12 May 2024 The last cold open of the season returned to politics. Omar L. Gallaga, Los Angeles Times, 19 May 2024 The variety show dispensed with its typical topical cold open for one that featured SNL castmembers sharing moments with their moms. Hilary Lewis, The Hollywood Reporter, 11 May 2024 Starring Brunson, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Tyler James Williams, Lisa Ann Walter, Chris Perfetti, and Janelle James as the school's staff and administrators, Abbott is charming, laugh-out-loud funny, and boasts one of the best cold open bits of 2022. EW.com, 10 May 2024 The series starts with a cold open featuring a guy bumping around in a dark, wet room of some sort. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 7 May 2024 This week’s cold open eschewed White House politics or Trump court drama for a look at how parents are reacting to recent student protests at college campuses. Omar L. Gallaga, Los Angeles Times, 5 May 2024 This week’s cold open made a very strong case for this year’s women’s NCAA tournament completely eclipsing the men’s side (more on eclipses later). Omar L. Gallaga, Los Angeles Times, 7 Apr. 2024 When the series kicked off its 49th season in October, Pete Davidson toed the line between humor and sincerity while addressing the violence overseas during his episode’s cold open. Shania Russell, EW.com, 31 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cold open.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1991, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cold open was in 1991

Dictionary Entries Near cold open

Cite this Entry

“Cold open.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cold%20open. Accessed 23 Jun. 2024.

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