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I've been struggling with this one...

I'm trying to figure out whether it's okay to use the expression "call of the blood" to describe the phenomenon of doing something naturally (or coming to like it naturally) because it's in your blood, because your ancestors did it/were skillful at it, etc. For example, my ancestors were always good at horse riding, and I should also be good at that, at least like that because it's in my blood- in English, could I call this the "call of the blood"?

We do have this expression in Russian. The words themselves seem pretty self-explanatory, but since there are so many expressions involving the word "blood", I thought to ask the native speakers and English language specialists here.

(What I found during my research online were the similar-sounding expressions "call out for blood", or "blood for blood", but theseare not what I need in terms of the meaning.)

So, can I say "call of the blood"/"the blood call"?

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    We certainly say that someone has a skill 'in the blood', but I've never heard 'call of the blood'. Oct 23, 2023 at 10:09
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    The words themselves seem pretty self-explanatory, That may be true in Russian, but not in English. "So, can I say "call of the blood"/"the blood call"? No. It is meaningless in English.
    – Greybeard
    Oct 23, 2023 at 10:19
  • @KateBunting thanks for your help!
    – Ley
    Oct 23, 2023 at 10:45
  • And thank you for the clarification, @Greybeard
    – Ley
    Oct 23, 2023 at 10:46
  • I don't think the exact phrase is very common (although there's a 1906 novel called Call of the Blood that seems to have something to do with the spirituality of simple life vs European "civilisation") but I'd associate it with something more like primitive urges or instincts, particularly violent or sexual, rather than e.g. the desire to be a violinist because you come from a family of violinists.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 23, 2023 at 12:08

2 Answers 2

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I don't think that "call of the blood" is an idiomatic phrase in English. Google Ngrams reports a tiny number of occurrences, but none of them have the meaning of "in one's blood". Variations of the latter phrase have two orders of magnitude more occurrences.

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  • The OP has used this expression in his question.
    – Greybeard
    Oct 23, 2023 at 21:50
  • lol, I didn't notice that mixed into all that text.
    – Barmar
    Oct 23, 2023 at 23:25
  • I've revised the answer to use the Ngram results for the phrases.
    – Barmar
    Oct 23, 2023 at 23:30
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'The call of the N' (N a suitable noun phrase, usually a single noun) is certainly a snowclone, as one can see by googling

"call of the wild/sea/mountain/night/unseen/void/abyss/righteous/..."

with Jack London's title figuring hugely.

But that doesn't mean that one can assume total productivity. There are plenty of hits in a Google search for "call of the blood", but these seem to be just repeats of various books and films so titled. I'd say that the expression is not idiomatic (though grammatically there's no problem), and that its intended meaning could only be guessed at.

As well as 'in his/one's/... blood', there is the idiomatic expression using the blood ≅ fundamental make-up metaphor

Blood will out.

[Adage] used to suggests that a person's true character or nature will eventually be exposed, despite any attempts to conceal it.

[Langeek]

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