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I am really hooked on watching Seinfeld; it is really my favorite series. Now in one of the episodes the sentence in bold is used:

George: Hello.
Kelly the Waitress: Well, what's it going to be?
George: What's it gonna be?
Kelly the Waitress: Yes. What'll you have? Are you eating? It's in that vein.
George: I’ll eh, I’ll just have a bowl of chili.

I always wondered what that means. I couldn't even understand it, I had to search for the script of the episode, and look at what was actually said.

What is she trying to say, and how do you use this phrase?

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+1 never knew that phrase. BTW, is it in common use? I'd like to try that, but don't want to confuse people. –  Terry Li Nov 26 '11 at 17:49
1  
I do not know if it's common use, I have only heard it once. I am not an native English speaker so I think I am not the best one to answer your question. –  Saif Bechan Nov 27 '11 at 4:09

4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

The phrase, "in the same vein," means "in the same general category or style".

The waitress in the Seinfeld scene is explaining that, "Well, what's it going to be?"; "What'll you have?"; and "Are you eating?" are all phrases that mean pretty much the same thing.

According to the following reference, "in that vein" means "similar, on the same topic, along those lines". http://www.english-idioms.net/cgi-bin/idiom.cgi?idiom=in%20that%20vein

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Ah I understand it now. I thought it had something to do with this, but I wan't sure. Thank you for clearing this out. –  Saif Bechan Nov 27 '11 at 4:06
    
@SaifBechan Pleased I could help. –  sarah Jan 5 '12 at 8:24

It's not wood...that's grain.

The original phrase is It's in a similar vein, which actually started in mines since ores naturally formed long streaming deposits called veins. Miners would use the phrase to effectively communicate the locations of each separate vein. So if a miner uncovered what looked like two different deposits, a senior miner may come down and tell him that one deposit is "in a similar vein" to the other.

Incidentally, Barrie England's explanation and my own are in a similar vein; The deposits were so named for their striking resemblance to blood vessels.

However, the origin is just fun trivia in case you wanted to explain it to someone else, as it's not a phrase I hear often anymore. At least you now understand that the phrase denotes a relationship or connection between things. In Kelly's case, her waitress vernacular for May I take your order

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Thanks for the fine explanation. –  Saif Bechan Nov 27 '11 at 4:05

She's trying to explain that, when she says "What's it going to be?," she means it as a synonym for "What will you have?" or "Are you eating?" When two concepts are closely related, they are in the same vein.

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It means ‘it’s on those lines’. It’s the same vein that describes the blood vessels that return blood to the heart, but the word has accrued many figurative uses.

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Note that a slightly less gory meaning of vein is the vein in wood... –  Benjol Nov 26 '11 at 15:54
    
@Benjol: Indeed, and in marble too. –  Barrie England Nov 26 '11 at 16:29
    
Also ore veins. –  Joren Nov 26 '11 at 19:53

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