In an article about a family in Queens, New York, a young man, seventeen years old, who had lost both his father and mother to Coronavirus, and, together with his sister, had contracted the disease yet recovered, stated :

“Because it’s just me and my sister [left], we sort of have to rely on each other," he said. “We were the only blood left.”

MSN News - 22nd September 2020

I had not come across the word 'blood' used in this way, but then I am a Brit.

Does it mean, simply, a close relative ?

Is this an American English expression ?

EDIT : I have a vague recollection of hearing someone address someone else as 'blood' but that may be a false memory triggered by association.

P.S. I know my header title is a little ungrammatical but the system did not allow me to put a full stop. I had to add a question mark, for reasons that I fully understand.

  • 5
    I think it's just the shortened version of blood relatives. Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 17:17
  • @NigelJ Is the speaker from a particular demographic? I'm British and it seems strange to me, too.
    – Greybeard
    Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 17:29
  • @Greybeard The young man lives in Queens, New York.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 18:19
  • 3
    It doesn't sound strange to me, as BrE. Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 20:34

2 Answers 2


"The only blood left" refers to the remaining members of a family.

The same use of blood occurs in bloodline = "all the members of a family group of people or animals over a period of time, especially when considering their shared family characteristics".

Cambridge Dictionary online

It relates to genetic connection rather than to marriage, so a long bloodline is a line of genetic connection going back through parents, grandparents, great grandparents ... Having "royal blood" is a genetic connection to royalty.

  • 1
    The question is not about the word "bloodline", but about "blood" on its own to refer to a blood relative or to blood relatives collectively.
    – Rosie F
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 8:24
  • 4
    @RosieF Yes indeed, but what is your point? The answer refers to "blood" first in the context of family and then by showing its use and connotations in "bloodline". I suggest that the two are easily distinguishable and that a discussion of "bloodline" helps make clear the meaning of "blood".
    – Anton
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 9:40

Apparently an AmE expression:

blood relative (US)

someone who has the same parents or ancestors as another person

  • Your sister is your blood relative, but your brother-in-law is not.


This connotation of blood is actually quite old:

Meanings "person of one's family, race, kindred; offspring, one who inherits the blood of another" are late 14c.


  • 1
    Can you edit this and give any justifications why you think this phrase applies to the original request? Simply copy-pasting the definition of the phrase does not answer the question. Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 17:52
  • I know what the OP is asking about, but simply copy-pasting the definition of the phrase seems to be a LMGTFY answer. You can add quotes from other sources and of course add your own commentary. Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 2:37
  • 1
    This isn't specific to AmE - it exists in British English too.
    – psmears
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 9:57
  • @psmears - yes, curiously M-W defines it as a US expression. I think that as a metaphor it is common in many languages.
    – user 66974
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 10:02
  • 3
    This is a perfectly good answer which doesn't need any changes.
    – Ben
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 11:04

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