The phrase ‘to come in from the cold’, meaning ‘(esp. of a spy) to return from isolation, concealment, or exile’, is famous from John le Carré’s 1963 novel The Spy who Came in from the Cold. OED editors are currently researching this phrase for possible inclusion in the dictionary in a future update.
Was the phrase coined by le Carré, or was it ever used by actual intelligence officers? If we can find evidence in this figurative use from before 1963, we will have our answer.
Watch OED editor Fiona McPherson elaborate on this appeal in the video below:
Posted by OED_Editor on 28 September 2012 20.32