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I have a bad habit of mixing metaphors or getting them ever so slightly wrong. One in particular I want to use is "national fabric". Is this a term? Or am I mixing two metaphors again? I'm thinking of the usage "Lighting fireworks and cooking hot dogs on the 4th of July is in our national fabric." However, something about that doesn't sit right with me. What is the correct metaphor?

Also, if I am getting them wrong, what are the metaphors that I might be trying to mix? Thanks.

  • I believe the idiom is "part of our national fabric." – Mark Hubbard Jan 27 '17 at 0:46
  • I think that "national fabric" is used more to describe more complex interactions. 'The legacy of the "prairie pioneers" and "civil rights marches" are key threads in our national fabric.' When you're talking about "Apple Pie and Chevrolet'... maybe saying there "in our blood" works better(I'm sure you'll have other suggestions). – Tom22 Jan 27 '17 at 0:50
  • Another metaphor that's commonly used for this is "DNA". But I can't find any uses of "national DNA" in Google ngrams. – Barmar Jan 27 '17 at 23:45
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The actual metaphor you are talking about is the fabric of American society. national fabric is not idiomatic at all. It just doesn't sound right. You are getting things mixed up a little bit here.

Usage example:

Lighting fireworks and cooking hot dogs on the Fourth of July runs through the very fabric of our society.

  • But metaphorical "fabric" can be used in other ways. One might talk of the fabric of a person's character, or the fabric of people's lives. And to speak of "the fabric of a nation" would be completely idiomatic. – Hot Licks Jan 27 '17 at 1:54
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Oxford defines fabric in this sense as:

fabric

2.2 The basic structure of a society, culture, activity, etc.

‘the multicultural fabric of Canadian society’

If you're determined to use that idiomatic phrase then it would seem to me that the most natural phrase to use would be "part of", i.e:

Lighting fireworks and cooking hot dogs on the 4th of July is part of the very fabric of our society.

However, as @Tom22 commented, maybe "in our blood" would be better?

Definition:

in one's blood

Ingrained in or fundamental to one's character.

‘racing is in his blood’

Thus:

Lighting fireworks and cooking hot dogs on the 4th of July is part of our culture that runs in our blood.

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