Blood has long been a symbol of life, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the Spanish word for blood, sangre, makes itself into a wide variety of phrases, many of which have little to do with blood in a literal sense. One such phrase — sangre azul, meaning "blue blood" — has even made its way into English in the form of "blue-blooded." As a term referring to someone from higher social levels, the Spanish phrase originally referred to the visible blood veins of people with fair complexion.
Following are some of the most common sangre phrases along with an example each of their usage. Alguien in these phrases means "someone," while algo means "something."
chuparle a alguien la sangre (literally, to suck the blood out of someone): to bleed someone dry. El sector público es el drácula que chupa la sangre de este país. The public sector is the Dracula that is bleeding this country dry.
helar la sangre (literally, to freeze the blood): to scare stiff, to curdle the blood. No es una gran película pero tiene un montón de sustos y uno en concreto me heló la sangre. It isn't a great film, but it has a ton of frightening moments and one of them in particular scared me spitless.
No llegó la sangre al río (literally, the blood didn't arrive at the river): Things didn't get all that bad. Pero no llegó la sangre al río y con el paso de los meses, Federico volvió a casa. But it didn't turn out all that bad, and with the passage of the months, Federico returned home.
llevar algo en la sangre (literally, to carry something in the blood): to have something in one's blood. Mi hijo lleva la música en la sangre. My son has music in his blood.
quemar la sangre a alguien (literally, to scald someone's blood): to make someone's blood boil; to cause someone to be extremely angry. Me quemaba la sangre cuando salí del cine. My blood was boiling when I left the movie theater. (The verb encender can be used instead of quemar.)
de sangre caliente: warm-blooded. Con algunas excepciones, todos los mamíferos y aves son de sangre caliente. With some exceptions, all mammals and birds are warm-blooded.
de sangre fría: cold-blooded. No se sabe si los pterosaurios eran animales de sangre fría. It is unknown whether pterosaurs were cold-blooded animals.
de sangre ligera (literally, thin-blooded): having a likable personality. Aquí descubrirá el espíritu jovial de los habitantes, gente de sangre ligera que vive con una actitud positiva. Here you will discover the cheerful spirit of the inhabitants, a likable people who live with a positive attitude. (This term is used primarily in Central and South America. The opposite term is de sangre pesada.)
sudar sangre: to sweat blood, to put forth an extraordinary effort. Te prometo que sudaré sangre, si es necesario, para llevarte hacia mi lado. I promise you that I will sweat blood, if necessary, to bring you to my side.
tener mala sangre (literally, to have bad blood): to have bad intentions, to be evil. Se necesita tener mala sangre para crear un virus destructivo. You have to be malicious to create a destructive virus.
tener sangre de horchata (literally, to have the blood of horchata, a beverage often made from almonds, rice or tiger nuts): to be extremely calm, to have no feelings, to have the blood of a turnip. Normalmente en este tipo de situaciones tiene sangre de horchata. Normally under these circumstances he's very calm. (In some regions, the word atole, a corn-based drink, is used.)
no tener sangre en las venas. (literally, to not have blood in the veins): for someone to not have any life (usually used figuratively in reference to emotions). El que pueda permanecer imperturbable y no baile con esta selección es porque no tiene sangre en las venas. Anyone who can just stay still and not dance to this piece doesn't have any life in him.