In Cold Blood

Shouldn't this be "with cold blood"?

When we hear the phrase “in cold blood,” it’s often connected to murder: “He shot the man in cold blood.”

This breeds confusion. Shooting someone results in blood, so whose blood are we talking about? The shooter or the victim?

It’s the shooter.

“Hot blood” means you’re angry and looking for revenge. If you find a man in bed with your wife and shoot him in a haze of anger, then you shot the man “in hot blood.” To shoot someone “in cold blood” means you were calculated, callous, and unfeeling. (If we refer to someone as a “cold-blooded killer,” there’s no confusion, because we’re not bringing anyone else’s blood into it.)

So, I feel like the phrase should be “with cold blood.” However, I suppose you are “in” your own blood? So maybe it works?

The phrase “cold blood” dates from the 1400s. Shakespeare used it several times.

Why I Looked It Up

I don’t exactly remember, but I had wondered about it for years.

This is item #245 in a sequence of 541 items.

You can use your left/right arrow keys to navigate