Although he was bred __ the law, he became a successful journalist.

Problem: Fill in the blank with apt. preposition.

Attempt: I have no idea. Even my 1500 page Oxford dictionary doesn't have a usage of the verb "breed" which might suit the sentence here :/ My best guess can be "with" or "under" but I don't know if it's correct.

Question: What is the correct answer here and why?

  • 3
    Maybe the use is metaphorical here? "Although he was bred for the law", meaning "he was educated to become a lawyer"? I googled and found only 9 exampes for "bred for the law". A quote: "Allan was bred for the law, but forsook it, and retired to the country." Jan 13, 2016 at 11:10
  • 1
    As @CopperKettle mentioned, it is 'for'. targetstudy.com/languages/english/preposition-exercise-4.html
    – Varun Nair
    Jan 13, 2016 at 11:30
  • 1
    I'll convert the comment into an answer then. Jan 13, 2016 at 11:37
  • 2
    It would be "bred to the law" -- a turn of phrase popular in the 19th century. Tell your teachers to find new textbooks, or your examiners to get with it. :)
    – TimR
    Jan 13, 2016 at 12:06
  • 1
    Animals and crops are "bred for". People are figuratively "bred to". But as I said, it's a quaint phrase for 2016. You'll find it in Nathaniel Hawthorne.
    – TimR
    Jan 13, 2016 at 12:15

1 Answer 1


CopperKettle has answered your question about the preposition, but also note that one of Dictionary.com's definitions for 'breed' is "to develop by training or education; bring up; rear: 'He was born and bred a gentleman'.", so 'bred for the law' means something like 'He came from a family of lawyers and/or was intended or encouraged by them to become one'. This usage of 'breed' is almost always past tense and passive. His pregnant mother would not have said 'We are going to breed him for the law'.

  • But the father might have said to his wife before she became pregnant, "If you bear me a son, my dear, he will be bred to the law, as I was, and my father and grandfather before me."
    – TimR
    Jan 13, 2016 at 13:20

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