Green’s Dictionary of Slang

cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey phr.

also ...to freeze a brass monkey, ...the ears off a brass monkey, ...nose..., ...tail..., to blow the balls off..., ...to freeze the tail off a tin possum, ...to make a Jew drop his bundle, snappy enough to freeze the plumbing off a brass elephant

(US/Aus.) of temperature, extremely cold; also fig. use; note also ad hoc vars. found in cits.

[US]Atkinson’s Casket (Phila., PA) 7 96/1: ’Twas cold enough to make a Russian shiver.
[US]Noons Lick Times (Fayette, MO) 25 Mar. 2/5: Last night was cold enough ‘to freeze a brass monkey’s tail off’.
[UK]H. Kingsley Recollections of G. Hamlyn (1891) 24: Whew! it’s cold enough to freeze the tail off a tin possum; and this infernal rubbish won’t burn, at least not to warm a man.
[US]Montana Post (Virgina City, MT) 18 Nov. 4/1: One of the party [...] observed that ‘It was cold enough to freeze the tail of a brass monkey’.
[US] in J. Parker Old Army (1929) 120: It was ‘cold enough to freeze the tail off a brass monkey’.
[US]Daily Globe (St Paul, MN) 12 Mar. 3/3: By the time all the seas was drfied up the earth ’ud be cold enough to freeze a brass monkey.
[US]Daily Morn. Astorian (Astoria, OR) 20 Jan. 3/1: The wind is blowing from the east cold enough the freeze the nose off a brass monkey.
[US]Witchita Daily Eagle (KS) 9 July 11/2: I was in a fort [...] where it was cold enough the freeze a brass monkey.
[US]Florida Star (Titusville, FL) 1 June 6/1: The South African winter [...] can be cold enough to ‘freeze the tail off a brass monkey’.
[UK]Sporting Times 28 Jan. 1/4: St. Petersburg is a bit too cold even for brass monkeys.
[US]Beaver Herald (OK) 17 Feb. 1/3: We were visited by a raging blizzard all day. Cold enough to freeze the hair off a ‘brass monkey’.
[US]Salt Lake Trib. (UT) 18 Sept. 21/7: In winter [...] there are temperatures that would breeze the nose off any ‘brass monkey’.
[UK]R. Tressell Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (1955) 270: It’s enough to freeze the ears orf a brass monkey!
[Can]R. Service ‘The Black Dudeen’ in Rhymes of a Red Cross Man 138: And cold! A monkey of brass would freeze.
[US]C. Sandburg letter 3 Jan. in Mitgang (1968) 175: A glad and mucking Icelander who has an honest-to-God pride he came from a climate that would freeze the nose off a brass monkey.
[UK]N&Q 12 Ser. IX 466: Cold (It’s) Enough to Make a Jew Drop his Bundle. It’s very cold.
[UK]Nichols & Tully Twenty Below Act I: What a night! It’d freeze the tail off a brass monkey.
[UK]B. Bennett ‘Me and a Spade’ in Billy Bennett’s Fifth Budget 12: Out on the snow it was fifty below / And would give a brass monkey the croup.
[US]P.G. Brewster ‘Folk “Sayings” From Indiana’ in AS XIV:4 263: ‘Cold as a dog’s nose,’ and ‘cold enough to freeze the tail off a brass monkey’.
[Aus]Baker Aus. Lang. 88: Of additional similes peculiarly our own, the following are among the best: [...] cold enough to freeze the tail (nose, etc.) off a brass monkey, extremely cold.
[US]W.D. Overholser Fabulous Gunman 89: Cold enough to freeze the brass monkey.
[UK]A. Petry Narrows 86: Some nights it was cold enough to freeze the tail off a brass monkey.
[UK](con. 1943) A. Myrer Big War 21: Snappy enough to freeze the plumbing off a brass elephant.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ Cop This Lot 52: Cold enough ter freeze ’em orf a brass monkey, an’ no place ter sleep.
Democrat & Chron. (Rochester, NY) 6 Feb. 11/1: A cold spell snappy enough to freeze the toes of a marble lion.
[Ire]C. Brown Down All the Days 58: It’s cold enough to blow the balls off a brass monkey.
[UK](con. 1940s) I. Agnew Loner 123: This place would freeze the balls off a brass monkey!
[UK]Barltrop & Wolveridge Muvver Tongue 30: Other sayings for nippy weather are [...] ‘cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey’.
[Aus]J. Morrison Share House Blues 126: Cold weather in July. ‘Freeze the balls off a brass monkey,’ says Gerontius.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 92: [The weather] may be described as being as cold as hell, as cold as a witch’s tit, or cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.
[Ire]B. Quinn Smokey Hollow 149: It [the water] would in fact freeze the balls off a brass monkey.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Goodoo Goodoo 15: It looks cold enough to freeze the balls off an Eskimo’s pool table.