What does ‘breed in the bone’ mean?
The idiom "breed in the bone" means that a certain characteristic or behavior is deeply ingrained or inherited from one's family or upbringing.
The Origin Story
Breed in the bone is an idiomatic expression that describes a characteristic, habit, or behavior that is deeply ingrained in a person's nature or personality. It suggests that certain qualities or tendencies are inherited or acquired at an early age and are difficult to change or eradicate. This idiom can be traced back to the 16th century, where it first appeared as the proverb "What's bred in the bone will come out in the flesh." It evolved over time into the more concise expression "breed in the bone." The phrase is believed to have originated from the field of animal breeding, where specific traits are bred into animals through selective breeding techniques.
Breed in the bone is often used figuratively to imply that certain qualities or behaviors are deeply rooted in a person's nature, much like traits inherited from ancestors. It suggests that these inherent qualities are difficult to change or suppress, regardless of how hard someone may try.
In addition to its figurative usage, breed in the bone is commonly used to describe talent or skill. For instance, someone might say, "She's a natural-born singer. It's bred-in-the-bone." This phrase indicates that the person has a natural talent for singing that is deeply rooted and inherited.
Similarly, this idiom can be used to describe negative traits or behaviors. For example, someone might say, "He has a quick temper. It's bone-deep." This implies that the person has a predisposition towards anger or a short fuse that is deeply ingrained in their nature.
Breed in the bone can also refer to cultural or societal characteristics that are deeply rooted in a community or group of people. For example, someone might say, "Hospitality is in one's bones in their culture." This suggests that the act of being welcoming and hospitable is an inherent part of their cultural identity.
Overall, the idiom breed in the bone conveys the idea that certain qualities, habits, or behaviors are deeply ingrained in a person's nature or a community's identity. It suggests that these inherent characteristics are difficult to change or alter, remaining a defining trait that lingers throughout a person's life or within a particular group.
Examples of how the idiom "breed in the bone" can be used in a sentence:
- Although he tried to appear calm, his impatience was bred in the bone.
- She had a natural talent for singing; it was bred in the bone.
- His love for adventure was bred in the bone; he couldn't stay in one place for too long.