Posted by R. Berg on May 26, 2001
In Reply to: Scream . . . posted by phil seligman on May 01, 2001
: : : scream bloody murder
: : Well, the most literal meaning would be to scream "Bloody MUUUR-der!" When it comes to idioms, though, literal and precise are different things. I know of two common uses: To scream loud and long, as if you saw a maniac rushing toward you brandishing a sharpened ax. This is not too far from the literal meaning. To protest vehemently--a hyperbolic extension of use 1. "Taxpayers will scream bloody murder if the rates are raised."
: the question is whether it is proper to use this phrase merely to describe loud voices or crying (i.e. no mention of the maniac, the ax, or any other CAUSE for that matter. For example, would it be appropriate to say: "i went to a party the other night and a group of children there were screaming bloody murder." without any explanation as to why (other than the natural noisiness of children) they were "screaming bloody murder"
I think it is appropriate. The phrase is used for loud and vehement screaming/crying regardless of the cause. The cause need not be known.