Critical analysis of discourse about genetics has, to date, focused primarily on its ideological components. This essay synthesizes data on public use of metaphors about genetics that shows emotive dimensions of discourse may also play a substantial role in determining people’s understanding of, talk about, and response to genomics. The essay reports a study showing the ways in which members of the public explain their preference for particular metaphors based on how those metaphors make them feel. It also reports a study showing that lay preferences for metaphors differ from the expert metaphors circulated in the mass media. The essay offers an account of those differences based in the different emotional work that different metaphors do for experts and for members of the public, given their different situation in relationship to genetics knowledge. These fi ndings imply the need for greater attention to the role of emotion in the uptake of genetic technologies such as personalized genomic testing and genetic engineering, and the need to form policy based on our experiences of these feelings rather than merely on putatively a priori principles.