Room temperature challenge is a darkly humorous euphemism for getting killed indoors.
It is used especially in relation to armed robbers in the United States.
The expression reflects on the fact, that once someone dies, their body temperature starts approaching room temperature, as vital functions no longer emit heat.
Although the exact origin of the expression is shrouded in mystery, one of the earliest instances of it being used in English comes from a 1989 Washington Post article.
The article, titled “WGMS Transmitter Sold” by Jeffrey Yorke, describes Rush Limbaugh reacting to the death of liberal journalist I. F. Stone with the phrase “I’m not sorry at all I.F. Stone assumed room temperature”.
Starting in 2017, the YouTube channel Active Self Protection started uploading CCTV footage, involving the death of robbers and other criminal offenders with the phrase “room temperature challenge” included in the titles.
The expression had appeared on Reddit in 2018 and was first defined on Urban Dictionary in 2018.
- Urban Dictionary – Room Temperature Challenge