"Bloody", a discouraged word to use in Britain

  • #1
symbolipoint
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Many of us have heard or been told, that "bloody" is a word one should not use in England or in Britain. Why? It seems to be a perfectly standard word with no dirty meaning. If someone is leaking blood, then as this leakage occurs, something may become soaked, or coated, or appear to show an exhibiting of blood, so we would or could modify what we express with this word, "bloody". I am curious how the people will then say "bloody"; either using this word, or handling the meaning in some modified way.
 
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  • #2
PeroK
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We'd tend to use "blood soaked" or "blood stained" rather than bloody, which is almost always used as a curse. A Brexiteer might say "bloody foreigners". While an anti-Brexiteer might say that Brexit is a "bloody mess" - an expression which is almost always used figuratively and rarely literally.
 
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  • #3
tech99
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I was told when I was at school that it refers to the blood of Christ, and is therefore a religious swear word. As a matter of interest, I was also told that "blimey" means "God blind me".
I have noticed a recent shift in attitudes amongst children in the UK that religious swear words are more serious than sexual ones. It was the converse when I was at school.
 
  • #4
George Jones
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Right right, you're bloody well right, you got a bloody right to say,

 
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  • #5
PeroK
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Supertramp pales in comparison to John Cooper Clarke, the "punk poet":

 
  • #6
jack action
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You can take your pick for the origin of the word:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloody#Origin said:

Origin​

Use of the adjective bloody as a profane intensifier predates the 18th century. Its ultimate origin is unclear, and several hypotheses have been suggested. It may be a direct loan of Dutch bloote, (modern spelling blote) meaning entire, complete or pure, which was suggested by Ker (1837) to have been "transformed into bloody, in the consequently absurd phrases of bloody good, bloody bad, bloody thief, bloody angry, etc., where it simply implies completely, entirely, purely, very, truly, and has no relation to either blood or murder, except by corruption of the word."

The word "blood" in Dutch and German is used as part of minced oaths, in abbreviation of expressions referring to "God's blood", i.e. the Passion or the Eucharist. Ernest Weekley (1921) relates English usage to imitation of purely intensive use of Dutch bloed and German Blut in the early modern period.

A popularly reported theory suggested euphemistic derivation from the phrase by Our Lady. The contracted form by'r Lady is common in Shakespeare's plays around the turn of the 17th century, and Jonathan Swift about 100 years later writes both "it grows by'r Lady cold" and "it was bloody hot walking to-day" suggesting that bloody and by'r Lady had become exchangeable generic intensifiers. However, Eric Partridge (1933) describes the supposed derivation of bloody as a further contraction of by'r lady as "phonetically implausible". According to Rawson's dictionary of Euphemisms (1995), attempts to derive bloody from minced oaths for "by our lady" or "God's blood" are based on the attempt to explain the word's extraordinary shock power in the 18th to 19th centuries, but they disregard that the earliest records of the word as an intensifier in the 17th to early 18th century do not reflect any taboo or profanity. It seems more likely, according to Rawson, that the taboo against the word arose secondarily, perhaps because of an association with menstruation.

The Oxford English Dictionary prefers the theory that it arose from aristocratic rowdies known as "bloods", hence "bloody drunk" means "drunk as a blood".
 
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  • #7
pbuk
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Many of us have heard or been told, that "bloody" is a word one should not use in England or in Britain. Why?
"Bloody" can be used as a (mild) expletive and it is not nice to utter expletives. Usage other than as an expletive is perfectly acceptable [Edit] in most contexts*[Edit]

We'd tend to use "blood soaked" or "blood stained" rather than bloody, which is almost always used as a curse.
I don't agree with that: "a bloody weapon" conveys something different to a "blood-stained weapon" and there is no alternative to e.g. a "bloody battle".

* I would try to avoid it when talking to e.g. a group of 10 year old boys
 
  • #8
pinball1970
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Many of us have heard or been told, that "bloody" is a word one should not use in England or in Britain. Why? It seems to be a perfectly standard word with no dirty meaning. If someone is leaking blood, then as this leakage occurs, something may become soaked, or coated, or appear to show an exhibiting of blood, so we would or could modify what we express with this word, "bloody". I am curious how the people will then say "bloody"; either using this word, or handling the meaning in some modified way.
This was considered “swearing” of a sort in the 60s, 70s but was certainly not in the same league as other words.

Religious connotations too as the word was usually followed “hell” which is why it was frowned upon much more when the culture was more conservative Christian.

I never actually considered actual blood or battles from Jesus or anything when I heard it, it was just a word that meant an adult was angry or you were near a building site.

Swearing was taking the name of god in vain (taught from school) but you were in very big trouble if you used vulgarity too.

In Black Adder, British 1980s comedy George a WW1 character (Hugh Laurie) used “bally” sometimes which I thought was a gentler, upper class version of the word “bloody”

There was also “beastly” which was ok to use by children, as this was in children’s books of the time, Famous five, Biggles, Just William type books.



Mind you, If I would have used the word “beastly” in my council estate school in the early 70s, I think would have had the bally cr*p kicked out of me.
 
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  • #9
sophiecentaur
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I am always very impressed how TV and Radio sports commentators manage to control their language so well in the heat of the moment. I guess we all mostly control ourselves in 'serious' situations.
There are some beautifully restrained expressions - I like "I'll go to the foot of our stairs".
 
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  • #10
symbolipoint
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Following on, would "Bloody" as acceptable language or non-acceptable depend on HOW it is used? Maybe it really goes along the lines of :

Figurative usage, risky.
Literal usage, very likely acceptable.
(How is that?)
 
  • #11
PeroK
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Following on, would "Bloody" as acceptable language or non-acceptable depend on HOW it is used? Maybe it really goes along the lines of :

Figurative usage, risky.
Literal usage, very likely acceptable.
(How is that?)
The literal usage is definitely acceptable, but it's generally describing battles or historical events - a bloody civil war.

In everyday speech, even if you try to use it literally, it will sound figurative. If you said "put that bloody knife away", then it sounds (to me anyway) that you are cursing the knife, rather than noting that it's covered in blood.
 
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  • #12
Bandersnatch
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Linguistic pro tip: if you find yourself in an everyday situation where it is appropriate to use 'bloody knife' in the literal rather than the intensive sense, don't talk to the owner of the knife. Just run.
 
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  • #13
russ_watters
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Linguistic pro tip: if you find yourself in an everyday situation where it is appropriate to use 'bloody knife' in the literal rather than the intensive sense, don't talk to the owner of the knife. Just run.
Unless he was checking your steak before serving it.
 
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  • #14
symbolipoint
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The literal usage is definitely acceptable, but it's generally describing battles or historical events - a bloody civil war.

In everyday speech, even if you try to use it literally, it will sound figurative. If you said "put that bloody knife away", then it sounds (to me anyway) that you are cursing the knife, rather than noting that it's covered in blood.
I am understanding this better. One can usually arrange other wording instead of saying "bloody, noun" or "bloody, noun phrase". Easy choice for acceptably using could be better, "the noun is bloody". But something like, "Take a tissue and blow your bloody nose gently." should be said differently.
 
  • #15
hmmm27
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Go figure... I always had "bloody" pegged as being the same strength as "darn" and "heck", albeit foreign (UK).

Not too sure about it being a sacred deprecation, though : "bloodied" seems pretty straightforward - a "bloodied" idiot : somebody who was an idiot and paid for it.
 
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I wouldn't call bloody a swear word as such.It is really just a space in the flow of words where the speaker takes a break from trying to make sense and allow him or herself to play with the shape of the sentence or phrase he is expressing

You often hear the explanation that words are used a bit like punctuation,and one also speaks of "colourful language"

Historically yes,it may have been used in a more literal sense (blood of Mary?) but now it is really just there to add a bit of rhythm and roll .

I remember one of the first dates I went on where my intended lay (one had to dream :) ) complained that my language was not profane enough!!!

On the other hand I would know the company I was in before using it.To some it might be a foreign language.
 
  • #17
PeroK
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I am understanding this better. One can usually arrange other wording instead of saying "bloody, noun" or "bloody, noun phrase". Easy choice for acceptably using could be better, "the noun is bloody". But something like, "Take a tissue and blow your bloody nose gently." should be said differently.
Precisely.
 
  • #18
sophiecentaur
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I am understanding this better.
The English language has more exceptions than it has 'rules' so I think you will be disappointed if you want, ever to 'understand' it. Once you know enough rules, you can hope to cut it with the xenophobic Brits but they resent other people on the basis of the way they speak almost as much on the basis of how they look. BTW "other people" can refer to people who live in the nearby village. Brits embarrass me, despite the fact that I am about as English as you can get. (Note the use of the word English, rather than British - but that varies according to the situation.)

Speak in the way TV newsreaders do and you will get by OK. (But not all of them!!) :wink:
 
  • #19
pbuk
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I am understanding this better.
Actually I think you are overthinking it, any contrived effort to avoid the word is just going to sound stupid. In any case it is only used in its proper sense rarely: we don't say 'wipe your bloody shirt' any more than we would say 'wipe your inky shirt'; it would be 'wipe the blood off your shirt'.

"Take a tissue and blow your bloody nose gently." should be said differently.
In the UK a nosebleed is a nosebleed, a bloody nose would be a nose with blood (whose?) on it and again we would say 'wipe the blood off your nose'.
 
  • #20
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What would one understand by "Jonny gave me a bloody effing nose"?

An (un?) appreciated present of a large nose sculpture for the garden?

A punch in the face?

A present of something Anthony Hopkins had left on set?
 
  • #21
sophiecentaur
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In the UK a nosebleed is a nosebleed, a bloody nose would be a nose with blood (whose?)
'Given a bloody nose' has its own meaning, involving being punched on the nose and definitely and visibly come off worse from the encounter ; 'taught a lesson'.
 
  • #22
PeroK
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'Given a bloody nose' has its own meaning, involving being punched on the nose and definitely and visibly come off worse from the encounter ; 'taught a lesson'.
Collins' dictionary gives:

give someone a bloody nose [British]

to defeat someone in a contest or competition in a way that does not cause permanent damage but makes them look foolish or inferior

https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/give-someone-a-bloody-nose

I would guess that nine times out of ten this expression would be used figuratively, as above, rather than literally.
 

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