in cold blood

Idioms & Phrases

in cold blood

In a purposely ruthless and unfeeling manner, as in The whole family was murdered in cold blood. This expression alludes to the notion that blood is the seat of emotion and is hot in passion and cold in calm. The term therefore means not "in the heat of passion," but "in a calculated, deliberate manner." [Late 1500s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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