What is the phrase, "Blood is Thicker Than Water" Mean?


Blood is thicker than water” is a saying which means that family ties are stronger than any other relationship. In general people are expected to be loyal to one’s family or blood relations and as such have greater obligations towards them than to those who do not belong to the family.

What is the origin of the idiom "Blood is thicker than water"?

The saying, Blood is thicker than water” has its origin in the German proverb “Blut ist dicker als Wasser” which means that family bonds are more important than the ties forged with unrelated people. It alludes to the fact of water evaporating without a trace while blood leaves behind a stain. The saying was first recorded in 1412 in the ‘Troy Book’ by John Lydgate and later in 1670 in J. Ray’s book ‘Proverbs’. However, it is generally believed that the proverb was first cited in the novel 'Guy Mannering' (1815) by Sir Walter Scott. Scot was known for his skill to coin new phrases and this could well be his own contribution. The saying ,"Blood is thicker than water"appeared in 1996 in “Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings” by Gregory Y. Titelman, published by Random House, 1996, New York.

When is the saying, “Blood is thicker than water” used?

The saying, Blood is thicker than water” is used when the importance is given to family bonds (blood) than other friendships or ties (water). It is used to make the family members realize that their allegiance first ought to lie with the family and later with acquaintances and friends.

Which are the other sayings related to "Blood is thicker than water"?

There are other sayings which are related to Blood is thicker than water” and give importance to blood relations as opposed to relationships such as friendship or marriage. The use of the phrase, Blood brother” may refer to two men related by birth or may suggest a relationship between two males who though not related by blood swear to be loyal to each other like a brother. “Bloodlines”, “bad blood are other expressions that suggest the connection by blood

What are some examples of the saying" ?Blood is thicker than water"?

  • I had two wedding invitations for the same day, one from my friend and the other from my aunt. There was no way I could miss the family wedding for “blood is thicker than water”.
  • The proverb Blood is thicker than water” seems to have a universal appeal but my husband thinks the contrary. He would do anything for his friends rather than his family and relatives.
  • Enmity between families is a common feature despite knowing that blood is thicker than water.
External References
Related Videos: 
See video