1. the fluid that circulates in the principal vascular system of human beings and other vertebrates, in humans consisting of plasma in which the red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are suspended.
  2. the vital principle; life: The excitement had got into the very blood of the nation.
  3. a person or group regarded as a source of energy, vitality, or vigor: It’s time we got some new blood in this company.
  4. one of the four elemental bodily humors of medieval physiology, regarded as causing cheerfulness.
  5. bloodshed; gore; slaughter; murder: to avenge the blood of his father.
  6. the juice or sap of plants: the blood of the grape.
  7. temperament; state of mind: a person of hot blood.
  8. physical nature of human beings: the frailty of our blood.
  9. Chiefly British. a high-spirited dandy; an adventuresome youth: the young bloods of Cambridge.
  10. a profligate or rake.
  11. physical and cultural extraction: It was a trait that seemed to be in their blood.
  12. royal extraction: a prince of the blood.
  13. descent from a common ancestor; ancestry; lineage: related by blood.
  14. recorded and respected ancestry; purebred breeding.
  15. Slang. a black person, especially a man.

verb (used with object)

  1. Hunting. to give (hounds) a first sight or taste of blood.Compare flesh(def 14).
  2. to stain with blood.
  1. get/have one’s blood up, to become or be enraged or impassioned: Injustice of any sort always gets my blood up.
  2. have someone’s blood on one’s head/hands, to be to blame for someone’s affliction or death: Though a criminal, he had no blood on his hands.
  3. in cold blood, deliberately; ruthlessly: The dictator, in cold blood, ordered the execution of all his political enemies.
  4. make one’s blood boil, to inspire resentment, anger, or indignation: Such carelessness makes my blood boil.
  5. make one’s blood run cold, to fill with terror; frighten: The dark, deserted street in that unfamiliar neighborhood made her blood run cold.
  6. sweat blood. sweat(def 37).
  7. taste blood, to experience a new sensation, usually a violent or destructive one, and acquire an appetite for it: Once the team had tasted blood, there was no preventing them from winning by a wide margin.


  1. a reddish fluid in vertebrates that is pumped by the heart through the arteries and veins, supplies tissues with nutrients, oxygen, etc, and removes waste products. It consists of a fluid (see blood plasma) containing cells (erythrocytes, leucocytes, and platelets)Related adjectives: haemal, haematic, sanguineous
  2. a similar fluid in such invertebrates as annelids and arthropods
  3. bloodshed, esp when resulting in murder
  4. the guilt or responsibility for killing or injuring (esp in the phrase to have blood on one’s hands or head)
  5. life itself; lifeblood
  6. relationship through being of the same family, race, or kind; kinship
  7. blood, sweat and tears informal hard work and concentrated effort
  8. flesh and blood
    1. near kindred or kinship, esp that between a parent and child
    2. human nature (esp in the phrase it’s more than flesh and blood can stand)
  9. ethnic or national descentof Spanish blood
  10. in one’s blood as a natural or inherited characteristic or talent
  11. the blood royal or noble descenta prince of the blood
  12. temperament; disposition; temper
    1. good or pure breeding; pedigree
    2. (as modifier)blood horses
  13. people viewed as members of a group, esp as an invigorating force (in the phrases new blood, young blood)
  14. mainly British rare a dashing young man; dandy; rake
  15. the sensual or carnal nature of man
  16. obsolete one of the four bodily humoursSee humour (def. 8)
  17. bad blood hatred; ill feeling
  18. blood is thicker than water family duties and loyalty outweigh other ties
  19. have one’s blood up or get one’s blood up to be or cause to be angry or inflamed
  20. in cold blood showing no passion; deliberately; ruthlessly
  21. make one’s blood boil to cause to be angry or indignant
  22. make one’s blood run cold to fill with horror

verb (tr)

  1. hunting to cause (young hounds) to taste the blood of a freshly killed quarry and so become keen to hunt
  2. hunting to smear the cheeks or forehead of (a person) with the blood of the kill as an initiation in hunting
  3. to initiate (a person) to an activity or organization, esp by real-life experience


  1. Thomas, known as Colonel Blood . ?1618–80, Irish adventurer, who tried to steal the crown jewels (1671)

Old English blod “blood,” from Proto-Germanic *blodam “blood” (cf. Old Frisian blod, Old Saxon blôd, Old Norse bloð, Middle Dutch bloet, Dutch bloed, Old High German bluot, German Blut, Gothic bloþ), from PIE *bhlo-to-, perhaps meaning “to swell, gush, spurt,” or “that which bursts out” (cf. Gothic bloþ “blood,” bloma “flower”), in which case it would be from suffixed form of *bhle-, extended form of *bhel- (2) “to blow, inflate, swell” (see bole).

There seems to have been an avoidance in Germanic, perhaps from taboo, of other PIE words for “blood,” such as *esen- (cf. poetic Greek ear, Old Latin aser, Sanskrit asrk, Hittite eshar); also *krew-, which seems to have had a sense of “blood outside the body, gore from a wound” (cf. Latin cruour “blood from a wound,” Greek kreas “meat”), which came to mean simply “blood” in the Balto-Slavic group and some other languages.

Inheritance and relationship senses (also found in Latin sanguis, Greek haima) emerged in English by mid-13c. Meaning “person of one’s family, race, kindred” is late 14c. As the seat of passions, it is recorded from c.1300. Slang meaning “hot spark, a man of fire” [Johnson] is from 1560s. Blood pressure attested from 1862. Blood money is from 1530s; originally money paid for causing the death of another.

Blood type is from 1928. That there were different types of human blood was discovered c.1900 during early experiments in transfusion. To get blood from a stone “do the impossible” is from 1660s. Expression blood is thicker than water attested by 1803, in reference to family ties of those separated by distance. New (or fresh) blood, in reference to members of an organization or group is from 1880.


1590s, “to smeart with blood;” 1620s, “to cause to bleed,” from blood (n.). Meaning “to give an animal its first taste of blood” is from 1781. Related: Blooded; blooding.


  1. The fluid consisting of plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets that is circulated by the heart through the arteries and veins, carrying oxygen and nutrients to and waste materials away from all body tissues.
  2. One of the four humors of ancient and medieval physiology, identified with the blood found in the blood vessels, and believed to cause cheerfulness.
  3. Descent from a common ancestor; parental lineage.

  1. The fluid tissue that circulates through the body of a vertebrate animal by the pumping action of the heart. Blood is the transport medium by which oxygen and nutrients are carried to body cells and waste products are picked up for excretion. Blood consists of plasma in which red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are suspended.
  2. A fluid that is similar in function in many invertebrate animals.

The fluid circulating through the heart, arteries, veins, and capillaries of the circulatory system. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the cells of the body and removes waste materials and carbon dioxide. It is composed of plasma (mainly water, but with a mixture of hormones, nutrients, gases, antibodies, and wastes), red blood cells (which carry oxygen), white blood cells (which help combat infection), and platelets (which help the blood clot).

In addition to the idiom beginning with blood

  • blood is thicker than water

also see:

  • bad blood
  • draw blood
  • flesh and blood
  • in cold blood
  • in one’s blood
  • make one’s blood boil
  • make one’s blood run cold
  • new blood
  • out for (blood)
  • run in the blood (family)
  • scream bloody murder
  • shed blood
  • sporting blood
  • sweat blood

Also see underbleed.

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