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. – Decapitated Soul Sep 22 at 17:17
  • @NigelJ Is the speaker from a particular demographic? I'm British and it seems strange to me, too. – Greybeard Sep 22 at 17:29
  • @Greybeard The young man lives in Queens, New York. – Nigel J Sep 22 at 18:19
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    It doesn't sound strange to me, as BrE. – marcellothearcane Sep 22 at 20:34

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.


| improve this answer | |
  • 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. – Decapitated Soul Sep 22 at 17:52
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    @DecapitatedSoul - The OP is asking about “blood” meaning relatives, family. That’s what the answer says. – user121863 Sep 22 at 18:04
  • 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. – Decapitated Soul Sep 23 at 2:37
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    This isn't specific to AmE - it exists in British English too. – psmears Sep 23 at 9:57
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    This is a perfectly good answer which doesn't need any changes. – Ben Sep 23 at 11:04

"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.

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  • 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 Sep 23 at 8:24
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    @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 Sep 23 at 9:40

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