Do you know the Italian idiom “avere il sangue blu“?

You might have already come across “avere il sangue blu” as it is a popular idiomatic expression, one of those that we commonly use when we speak. However it’s not easy to catch its meaning, so, in order to understand it, it is necessary to know the story behind: if you just translate it, it literally means “to have blue blood”. But what does it refer to?

This idiom refers to noble people who avoided the sunbeams and were always very pale, therefore their veins were dark blue: as only aristocrats use to do this, the expression corresponds to the English “to have blue blood” or, in American, “to be born to the purple”. Sometimes we use it ironically when someone behaves as an aristocrat.

That’s why if you don’t know the origin of this idiom it’s quite hard to get it!

Some examples will help you further!

Italian English
La nonna di Lucio è una duchessa, quindi lui ha il sangue blu. Lucio’s grandmother is a duchess, so he has blue blood/he is born to the purple.
I miei amici hanno il sangue blu e vivono ancora nel castello della loro famiglia. My friends have blue blood/are born to the purple and still live in their family’s castle.
Federica non aiuta mai sua madre con i lavori di casa. Forse pensa di avere il sangue blu! Federica never helps her mother with the houseworks. Maybe she thinks she has blue blood/to be born to the purple!


Is it easy to use? Try to think of some examples and compare them with your friends and classmates. It would also be nice to know if you have ever heard a similar expression in another language and if you use it!

If you are happy to learn more Italian idioms have a look at our Pinterest board or go through our online resources!