Bred in the bone

Posted by ESC on March 08, 2002

In Reply to: Fee Fi Fo Fum posted by Pun Camel on March 08, 2002

: : : : I came across the written phrase "that which is bred in the bone" and got the sense that it means 'that which is determined by inheritance, or genes'. Is this interpretation right? And how common is the phrase? Thanks. - Patty

: : : I've not heard this one before - it looks like an archaic idiom, with the use of "that which...". However, I'd bet that your interpretation is exactly right. "Blood will out" is a fractionally more common phrase with similar meaning.

: : "Bred in the bone" sounds familiar. I don't think it means inherited. I think it's used when a trait goes very deep in someone, however the trait came to be there. "Bred" in the sense of educated, trained, reared (compare "well-bred" or "good breeding"). "In the bone" in the figurative sense that the OED gives for that phrase: "to the inmost part, to the core." "A cook she certainly was, in the very bone and centre of her soul" (Stowe, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," 1850).

: I smell the blood of an English man. Be he alive or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bred?

: ;)
BRED IN THE BONE - "Inherent; part of one's nature. 'What's bred in the bone will come out in the flesh.'; a natural propensity cannot be repressed." From Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable revised by Adrian Room (HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, 1999, Sixteenth Edition). Example, hounds are "bred in the bone" to hunt. In the words of a blues song, "It's in 'em and it's got to come out."