MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Why do we say "Blood is thicker than water"?

Well-Known Expressions

Blood is thicker than water

Meaning:

Loyalties within a family are the strongest and most important ones.

Background:

The oldest known variation on this expression is found in the 12th century German epic, Reinhart Fuchs (Reynard the Fox) by Heinrich der Glîchezære: "I also hear it said, kin-blood is not spoiled by water."

In the early 15th century, English priest John Lydgate wrote in his epic poem Troy Book (commissioned by the future King Henry V), "For naturally blood will be of kind / Drawn-to blood, where he may it find."

The expression in its modern form makes its appearance in the second half of the 17th century; for example, in John Moore's novel Zeluco (1789): "So you see there is little danger of my forgetting them, and far less blood relations; for surely blood is thicker than water." (Chapter 72).

Although there doesn't seem to be a lot of historic support for the position, there is a school of thought that the expression originally had the exact opposite meaning to its modern interpretation, and that the ties between people who have made a blood covenant (for example, shed blood in battle) are stronger than the connection of those who share the water of the womb.

Alphabetical list of expressions

Challenge yourself with BookBrowse Wordplays

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Death in Mud Lick
    Death in Mud Lick
    by Eric Eyre
    When Eric Eyre, investigative and statehouse reporter for the Charleston Gazette-Daily, began ...
  • Book Jacket
    Orange World and Other Stories
    by Karen Russell
    Karen Russell has a tremendous gift for crafting uncanny, through-the-looking glass worlds that are ...
  • Book Jacket: The Book of Longings
    The Book of Longings
    by Sue Monk Kidd
    The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd follows the life of Ana, a woman born in the Galilean city of ...
  • Book Jacket: Master Class
    Master Class
    by Christina Dalcher
    Christina Dalcher's Master Class shows America sleepwalking into a perfectionist eventuality not ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Prisoner's Wife
    by Maggie Brookes

    Inspired by the true story of a courageous young woman who enters a Nazi POW camp to be with the man she loves.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Daughter of the Reich
    by Louise Fein

    A spellbinding story of impossible love set against the backdrop of the Nazi regime.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Paris Hours
by Alex George

One day in the City of Light. One night in search of lost time.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win The House on Fripp Island

The House on Fripp Island
by Rebecca Kauffman

A taut, page-turning novel of secrets and strife.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

B I T T Water

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.