Chrysti the Wordsmith In Cold Blood

In 1966, American author Truman Capote published his non-fiction work “In Cold Blood,” a sensational account of the 1959 slaying of a Kansas farm family by two paroled robbers. The title of Capote’s work suggests that the intruders murdered the family members deliberately and with little remorse.

“In cold blood” was a cliché centuries before Capote’s work was published. The Oxford English Dictionary’s historical database cites the phrase in use from 1608.

This expression reflects an old belief that blood is the source of emotion. According to this notion, blood literally runs hot through the veins of a person in the throes of passion and anger, but cold is the blood of someone calm and detached.

Here’s how the Oxford English Dictionary explains the phrase “in cold blood”: “A phrase of the older physiology: from the sensations felt in the face and head when the circulation is quickened by exertion or excitement, the blood itself was supposed to grow hot or to ‘boil;’ at other times to be ‘cold’ or not sensibly hot, hence the phrase in cold blood, meaning coolly, without excitement, [passionless]…”

With this information as a backdrop, a deliberate and resolute person executes a deed literally “in cold blood.” It’s become a standard linguistic formula for describing the actions of a calculating murderer.