Witch’s Tits and Brass Monkey Balls

Curious, isn’t it, the phrases we use for “fucking cold weather?” “Colder than a witch’s tit, colder than a witch’s tit in a brass bra, cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey” – I hear those three regularly in my neck of the woods (which happens to be southeastern/south central Wisconsin, for those keeping track of such things).

I’ve been poking around for the source of the witch connection. Sadly, I have to report there isn’t much of one. Aside from the “witch marks” that were supposedly assumed to be (how’s that for vague?) cold and numb, searched for during the days of Matthew Hopkins, what’s so cold about a witch’s tit, really? Jonathon Green in the Chambers Slang Dictionary (2008) dates “colder than a witch’s tit” (also “titty”) to the 1930s. Related phrases in that same entry, about “weather, very cold,” are “colder than a nun’s snatch” (1950s) and “colder than a welldigger’s butt” (the same). Those last two are cited as US in origin. (I wonder what US speakers have against nuns that UK speakers don’t?) Continue reading