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In the movie Casablanca, Renault tells Rick (@ 16'45"):

"I like to think that you killed a man. It's the romantic in me."

I can't find this phrase in the dictionary: " it's (...) in me". But I think "romantic" should be a noun here and by way of analogy, it should be OK to place any noun there. Like I should be able to say "It's the 'rational' in me" ?

Am I correct?!

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  • You’re correct that you could put a different noun there. But “rational” is an adjective.
    – Mike Scott
    Sep 9, 2020 at 5:17
  • Thank you! then "Rationale" with an 'e' at the end should work. Sep 9, 2020 at 5:28
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    That doesn’t work either, because a person can’t be a rationale, and the noun that you place there has to be something that a person can be. You could use “rationalist”, though
    – Mike Scott
    Sep 9, 2020 at 5:33
  • “romantic” here is a noun meaning “romantic person”, which is why it works in this idiom.
    – StephenS
    Sep 9, 2020 at 5:40

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You understand that "romantic" can be both an adjective (eg "he is romantic") and a noun (eg "he is a romantic").

The expression "the [noun] in me" is quite common and can actually work with either an adjective or a noun!

With an adjective, the expression is quite literal. For example, someone of mixed heritage might say credit a particular character trait to one part of their heritage by saying "that's the Latin in me" (Latin being an adjective to describe anything relating to Latin countries).

With a noun, it is a more figurative expression - by saying, for example "that's the Latino in me", (a Latino being a person of Latin American origin or descent) a person is speaking as if there is a whole Latin person within them, as well as perhaps other figurative persons that represent other aspects of their heritage or personality.

In your example, "romantic" seems to be a noun - it is figuratively saying that a romantic person exists within them, as part of their personality.

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