\ˈthȯ \
thawed; thawing; thaws

Definition of thaw 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to go from a frozen to a liquid state : melt

b : to become free of the effect (such as stiffness, numbness, or hardness) of cold as a result of exposure to warmth

2 : to be warm enough to melt ice and snow used with it in reference to the weather

3 : to abandon aloofness, reserve, or hostility : unbend

4 : to become mobile, active, or susceptible to change

transitive verb

: to cause to thaw



Definition of thaw (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the action, fact, or process of thawing

2 : a period of weather warm enough to thaw ice the January thaw

3 : the action or process of becoming less aloof, less hostile, or more genial a thaw in international relations

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Synonyms & Antonyms for thaw

Synonyms: Verb

deliquesce, flux, fuse, liquefy (also liquify), melt, run

Antonyms: Verb

harden, set, solidify

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Examples of thaw in a Sentence


Plant the seeds in early spring as soon as the ground thaws. The sun will soon thaw the snow and ice. The weather is beginning to thaw. Our cold fingers and toes eventually thawed. She held the coffee cup tightly, trying to thaw her frozen fingers.


flooding from the spring thaw a thaw in international relations
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The inspector also said food wasn’t being thawed properly and some food wasn’t covered. Joshua Sharpe, ajc, "Buford Highway Chinese restaurant fails health inspection," 10 May 2018 Advances in the techniques used to freeze embryos have increased the number that can be successfully thawed. Ginger Christ And Julie Washington,, "Tours of Ohio fertility clinics show procedures in place to safeguard eggs, embryos (photos, videos)," 25 Mar. 2018 That would further worsen global warming, further thawing the Arctic – and so on. Chris Mooney, Anchorage Daily News, "The Arctic is full of toxic mercury, and climate change is going to release it," 6 Feb. 2018 The doors are closed in the winter to keep the tunnels warmer and prevent the freezing and thawing that can destabilize the limestone rock inside. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "3 old railroad tunnels help make the Elroy-Sparta Trail one of the state's most popular," 21 June 2018 Even in periods when North-South relations seemed to thaw, the remains returned were meager and often decidedly suspicious. New York Times, "Trump-Kim Deal Promises Answers for Families of Korean War M.I.A.s," 15 June 2018 People in the region have attributed the thick sheath of ice to lots of periods of freezing-and-thawing, allowing a snowpack and ice to build up on the tower, Handyside said. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, "Severely iced-over cellular tower causing service disruptions in Western Alaska," 26 Apr. 2018 Permafrost is thawing and releasing carbon into the atmosphere. Kelsey Brugger, Scientific American, "Alaska Wants to Fight Warming While Still Drilling for Oil," 12 July 2018 Before using it, allow the pastry to thaw completely, either overnight in the refrigerator or for 45 minutes at room temperature. Carole Kotkin, miamiherald, "Puff pastry can be used in countless sweet and savory ways," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Despite the recent thaw, this winter has brought with it record-breaking cold temperatures, which, for some Michiganders, may mean higher utility bills and the possibility of upcoming shutoff notices for people who can’t afford to pay their bills. Kimberly Hayes Taylor, Detroit Free Press, "Heating bills expected to spike in southeast Michigan, but help is available for the needy," 23 Jan. 2018 One of Duane’s ships was even frozen in the Soviet Union for months, Springer told Dateline, and his grandfather lived in Russian seamen’s hostels waiting for the thaw. Juliet Muir, NBC News, "Family still searching for answers in 1955 disappearance of World War II veteran," 26 May 2018 The thaw between the two Koreas continued Thursday, with the nations agreeing to restore military communication lines, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "Pompeo rejects North Korea claims, says sanctions remain until nukes are gone," 14 June 2018 Our little suburban enclave had a complete taxonomy of bad road, from freeze-thaw potholes deep enough to reach the earth’s molten core, to aging asphalt that crumbled away in sheets. John Kelly, Washington Post, "From potholes to perfect pavement: My neighborhood has lovely new streets," 24 June 2018 Rapid Thaw The agreement follows a rapid thaw of tensions on the peninsula after a flurry of North Korean missile tests and a hydrogen bomb detonation last year. Fortune, "'Korean War to End!' Trump Hails 2 Koreas' Deal to Pursue Denuclearization," 27 Apr. 2018 The move came amid a recent thaw of animosities, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un trying to reach out to Seoul and Washington in recent months. Washington Post, "SKorea halts propaganda broadcasts before summit with North," 22 Apr. 2018 Observers of the diplomatic thaw have asked whether peace with Ethiopia would lead Eritrea to loosen up and drop its long defensive stance. Elias Meseret, The Christian Science Monitor, "Ethiopia and Eritrea unite after ending 20-year border war," 9 July 2018 First, don’t confuse this latest thaw with anything approaching a resolution of the core issues. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "Welcome to the U.S.-China Cold Soup War," 21 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'thaw.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of thaw


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for thaw


Middle English, from Old English thawian; akin to Old High German douwen to thaw, Greek tēkein to melt, Latin tabēre to waste away

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Statistics for thaw

Last Updated

7 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for thaw

The first known use of thaw was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for thaw



English Language Learners Definition of thaw

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to stop being frozen or to cause (something) to stop being frozen

of weather : to become warm enough that snow and ice melt

: to return to a normal temperature after being very cold



English Language Learners Definition of thaw (Entry 2 of 2)

: a period of weather that is warm enough to melt ice and snow

: a situation in which a relationship becomes more friendly and less angry


\ˈthȯ \
thawed; thawing

Kids Definition of thaw

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to melt or cause to melt

2 : to grow less unfriendly or quiet in manner



Kids Definition of thaw (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a period of weather warm enough to melt ice and snow

2 : the action, fact, or process of becoming less hostile or unfriendly

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Comments on thaw

What made you want to look up thaw? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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