When hell freezes over

It is unlike but sometimes hell does freeze over, pic: http://www.funnybeez.com

This seems like a very archetypal American idiom to me.  I needs a little explaining but is easily understandable.  “When hell freezes over”  means way in the distant future – or more likely never  – because the likelihood of hell – a very hot place – freezing over is very very low.

It used often as an ironic reply to somebody making an overly optimistic or naive statement.

Girlfriend: “Susan, I am sure you and Brandon will get back together again”

Susan: “When hell freezes over!  I am done with that jerk.”

or

“Jimmy, you should really stop smoking, you know.”

“Dave, I have been smoking for 35 years, I’ll stop smoking when hell freezes over.”

Another idiom which means exactly the same and is used interchangeably is “when pigs fly”

Here is a nice webpage listing the same expression in a number of languages.

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