I'm looking for a phrase or an idiom to describe one's deep-seated passion for something, such as archaeology, Renaissance art, organized charity, Greenpeace, or similar to the following

  • Whatever makes you tick:
    something that motivates someone; something that makes someone behave in a certain way (TFD)


  1. Sailing and seamanship are _____________ for Bob.

  2. Bob's _________ are sailing and seamanship.

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    What blanks your blank. Fill in the blanks. – Hot Licks Jan 21 '16 at 22:39
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    What the hell is the matter with everybody? It's a perfectly legitimate question. If anyone's unhappy about the wording, they should edit it, is all. – Ricky Jan 21 '16 at 23:14
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    @dwjohnston: Well, what's wrong with an educated guess now and then? God gave us brains; we might as well conclude that one of the reasons He did so was we would use them now and then. – Ricky Jan 21 '16 at 23:24
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    Sorry all, was absent. The reason I can't use the provided phrase is because I was using that for a company name, but that URL is taken. – Shubhang Desai Jan 22 '16 at 3:11
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    What does the company deal with? Is about hobbies/passions/interests? Or are you hoping to entice users/clients to become hooked on your product/s? – Mari-Lou A Jan 22 '16 at 7:50

'What makes you tick', 'What turns you on', etc is a fairly common phrase construct in English.

You can modify the words used for their appropriateness in the conext - for example you wouldn't use 'what turns you on' in a formal context as it has sexual connotations.

Here's some suggestions:

What makes you tick - Fairly neutral, a bit casual.

What turns you on - Has sexual connotations, but not necessarily so. For example musicians might use this.

What floats your boat/What fills your sails/What lifts your rocket/What seasons your steak - I'm making these up to demonstrate that anything 'What verbs your noun' generally works, but might get a funny look. These are playful and informal.

What motivates you - Formal.

What you are passionate about - Slightly less formal.

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    The weird thing is that, in a modern business setting, "what you are passionate about" has absolutely no sexual connotation: It's completely denatured, and guys in suits throw it around without the least sense that traditionally it involves deeply felt emotion—or any emotion at all. That's why MBAs constantly say things like "At Ty-D-Bol we're passionate about clean toilets." – Sven Yargs Jan 21 '16 at 23:14
  • @SvenYargs: That's because they have no respect for others, themselves, or language, for that matter. A publisher once wrote to me: "I'm not crazy about your lead character's attitude towards scientists." – Ricky Jan 21 '16 at 23:20
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    @Ricky Wut? :D :D :D – dwjohnston Jan 21 '16 at 23:20

How about: 'What gets you out of bed in the morning' It's not directly sexual, but it could if you wanted it to be. Or 'What puts a spring in your step' Quite old-fashioned, but perfect if you want a traditional approach with being dull.

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Whatever floats your boat.

Whatever turns you on.

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  • Doesn't the first one seem a bit condescending? Also, the second one is a bit sexual, no? – Shubhang Desai Jan 21 '16 at 22:57
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    @ShubhangDesai: You didn't specify in your question that the phrase must be neither condescending nor racy. I'm not a mind reader, you know. – Ricky Jan 21 '16 at 23:00
  • That's correct. Sorry, wrote the question in a bit of a hurry. Was looking for a phrase with a similar connotation to the one provided. Simple and classy. – Shubhang Desai Jan 22 '16 at 3:12
  • @ShubhangDesai: "What makes you tick" may be simple, but it isn't classy. – Ricky Jan 22 '16 at 3:19

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