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Blood is Thicker Than Water

Posted by ESC on March 16, 2005

In Reply to: Blood is Thicker Than Water posted by warren on March 16, 2005

: : : I have always understood this to mean that friends are closer than relatives. Water is when we are born--when a woman breaks her water for birth,thus our family is connected by water, and blood is when we make a covenant with a friend. The mingling of blood by a cut for "blood-brothers" (sister's) is well known. Jesus said,"There is a friend that is closer than a brother (family)." and, "There is no greater gift than a man lay down his life (blood) for his friends." We are married to friends, not family. In fact, we are supposed to leave our birth family in order to start our own. So it seems to be a very misunderstood phrase most of the time.

: : I don't think you are correct on this since the rest of the world defines the saying the other way around:

: : 1 entry found for blood is thicker than water.

: : blood is thicker than water

: : Family ties are closer than other relationships. For example, Nancy will drop everything to help her sister; blood is thicker than water. Alluding to the fact that water evaporates without leaving a mark whereas blood leaves a stain, this proverb was first recorded about 1412.

BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER -- 1. "This proverb on the bonds of family and common ancestry first appeared in the medieval German beast epic 'Reinecke Fuch' (c. 1130 'Reynald the Fox') by Heinrich der Glichezaere, whose words in English read, 'Kin-blood is not spoiled by water.' In 1412, the English priest John Lydgate observed in 'Troy Book,' 'For naturelly blod will ay of knde/ Draw vn-to blod, wher he may it fynd.' By 1670, the modern version was included in John Ray's collected 'Proverbs,' and later appeared in Sir Walter Scott's novel 'Guy Mannering' and in English reformer Thomas Hughes's 'Tom Brown's School Days' . In 1859, a U.S. Navy commodore also quoted the proverb in a letter explaining why he had gone to the aid of a British fleet during a battle with the Chinese that year. More recently, Aldous Huxley's 'Nineth Philosopher's Song' gave the saying quite a different turn with 'Blood, as all men know, than water's thicker/ But water's wider, thank the Lord, than blood. From Wise Words and Wives' Tales: The Origins, Meanings and Time-Honored Wisdom of Proverbs and Folk Sayings Olde and New; by Stuart Flexner and Doris Flexner (Avon Books, New York, 1993).

2. "Relatives stick together; one will do more for relation than for others. A similar expression in German dates from the 12th century, but in English it seems to have been passed on verbally until the early 19th century when it appeared in print, in 1815, in Sir Walter Scott's 'Guy Mannering'" 'Weel - Blud's thicker than water - she's welcome to the cheeses.'" From The Dictionary of Cliches by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).

3. "Relationships within the family are stronger than any other kind. The saying was first cited in John Lydgate's 'Troy Book' (c. 1412). Appeared in J. Ray's collection of proverbs in 1670. First attested in the United States in 'Journal of Athabasca Department' ." From Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).

4. This reference says the phrase was collected in a book of proverbs in 1672. From Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).

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