AskDefine | Define cooler

Dictionary Definition



1 a refrigerator for cooling liquids [syn: ice chest]
2 an iced drink especially white wine and fruit juice
3 a cell for violent prisoners [syn: tank]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. anything which cools
  2. an insulated bin or box used with ice or freezer packs to keep food cold while picnicing or camping
  3. (countable or uncountable) a mixed drink, especially one served chilled
    They served wine coolers in the afternoon.
  4. (US slang) a prison
    "About a year or so back we had him in the cooler on a Mann Act rap." - "The Big Sleep", by Raymond Chandler


  1. comparative of cool
    He looks cooler when he's dressed in shorts.


Extensive Definition

A cooler most commonly is an insulated box, used to keep food or drink cool. Ice cubes which are very cold are most commonly placed in it to make the things inside stay cool. Ice packs are sometimes used, as they either contain the melting water inside, or have a gel sealed inside that also stays cold longer than plain water.
Coolers are often taken on picnics, and on vacation or holiday. Where summers are hot, they may also be used just for getting cold groceries home from the store, such as keeping ice cream from melting in a hot car. Even without adding ice, this can be a big help, particularly if having to make another brief stop on the way home.
They are usually made from interior and exterior shells of plastic, with a hard foam in between. They also come in sizes from small personal ones to large family ones with wheels. Disposable ones are made only from styrene foam (like a coffee cup) about 2 cm or one inch thick. Most have molded-in handles, a few have shoulder straps.
The cooler was invented in New Zealand, where it is generally called a chilly bin, a genericized trademark. In the United Kingdom the common name is a "cool-box", in the United States they are usually called a "cooler" and in Australia an "Esky".

Thermoelectric coolers

Some modern coolers are thermoelectric, plugging in to a car's cigarette lighter socket. Rather than using a compressor and refrigerant like a refrigerator or other heat pump, these use the Peltier effect along with an external fan to draw away the heat. These can also heat the contents instead of cooling them, useful for keeping dinner hot from a drive-through, or even to keep things from freezing in severely cold winter climates.
Thermoelectric coolers typically can drop the temperature by about 40 °F or 22 °C, and can raise it by at least that much. Some better units even have digital thermostat controls. They do draw a significant amount of power however, and can drain a car's battery enough so that it cannot start. Most electric coolers have an undervoltage shutoff at around 10.0 or 10.5 VDC to prevent this. Many also come with power adapters, which use an electronic transformer to convert alternating current mains or line voltage (120 or 240 VAC) down to 12 VDC, with a lighter-like socket for the cooler's cord to plug in.
Thermoelectric coolers are, however, not limited to use in cars. They can also be bought as household appliances in the form of small fridges; they may be preferred because of price and size. see also Thermoelectric cooling
cooler in German: Kühlbox
cooler in French: Glacière
cooler in Japanese: クーラーボックス
cooler in Dutch: Koelbox

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

air cooler, calaboose, can, chiller, chokey, clink, cold pack, coop, fan, hoosegow, ice bag, ice bucket, ice cube, ice pack, ice pail, jug, lockup, pokey, prison, quod, slammer, stir, surface cooler, ventilator, water cooler, wine cooler
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