blaspheme (v.) Look up blaspheme at
"to speak impiously or irreverently of God and sacred things," mid-14c., from Old French blasfemer "to blaspheme" (14c., Modern French blasphémer), from Church Latin blasphemare (which in Late Latin also meant "revile, reproach," hence blame (v.)), from Greek blasphemein "to speak lightly or amiss of sacred things, to slander," from blasphemos "evil-speaking" (see blasphemy). A classical reintroduction in English after the original word, taken from vernacular Old French, had been worn down and sense-shifted to blame. Related: Blasphemed; blasphemer; blaspheming.
blasphemous (adj.) Look up blasphemous at
"displaying blasphemy, irreverent to God or sacred things," early 15c., blasfemous, from Old French blasfemeus or directly from Late Latin blasphemus, from blasphemare (see blaspheme). Related: Blasphemously.
blasphemy (n.) Look up blasphemy at
"impious or profane speaking of God or sacred things," early 13c., from Old French blasfemie "blasphemy," from Late Latin blasphemia, from Greek blasphemia "a speaking ill, impious speech, slander," from blasphemein "to speak evil of." Second element is pheme "utterance," from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say;" first element uncertain, perhaps related to blaptikos "hurtful," though blax "slack (in body and mind), stupid" also has been proposed; de Vaan suggests a connection with the root of Latin malus "bad, unpleasant" (see mal-).
Blasphemy cognizable by common law is described by Blackstone to be "denying the being or providence of God, contumelious reproaches of our Saviour Christ, profane scoffing at the Holy Scripture, or exposing it to contempt or ridicule"; by Kent as "maliciously reviling God or religion"; and by Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw as "speaking evil of the Deity with an impious purpose to derogate from the Divine Majesty and to alienate the minds of others from the love and reverence of God." [Century Dictionary, 1895]
In Old Testament usage the word applied to a more specific crime, against the reverence for Jehovah as ruler of the Jews, comparable to treason.
blast (n.) Look up blast at
Old English blæst "a blowing, a breeze, puff of wind," from Proto-Germanic *bles- (source also of Old Norse blastr, Old High German blast "a blowing, blast"), from PIE root *bhle- "to blow."

Meaning "explosion" is from 1630s; that of "noisy party, good time" is from 1953, American English slang. Sense of "strong current of air forced into a furnace to accelerate combustion for iron-smelting" (1690s) led to blast furnace (1706) and transferred sense in full blast "the extreme" (1839). Blast was the usual word for "a smoke of tobacco" c. 1600.
blast (v.) Look up blast at
Old English blæstan "to blow, belch forth," from Proto-Germanic *bles- (source also of German blasen, Gothic blesan "to blow"), from PIE root *bhle- "to blow." From 16c.-19c., often "to breathe on balefully, cause to wither, blight, prevent from blossoming or maturing." Meaning "to blow up by explosion" is from 1758. Related: Blasted; blasting.
blast-off (n.) Look up blast-off at
"initial burst of energy that launches a rocket into space," 1950, from blast (v.) + off (adv.).
blasted (adj.) Look up blasted at
"stricken by malignant forces (natural or supernatural), cursed, blighted," 1550s, from blast (v.), with the notion of "balefully breathed upon." In the sense of "cursed, damned" it is a euphemism attested from 1680s. Meaning "drunk or stoned" dates from 1972, perhaps from the condition of one so affected, but blast (v.) "smoke marijuana" is attested from 1959.
blastema (n.) Look up blastema at
initial point of an organic growth, 1849, Modern Latin, from Greek blastema "offspring, offshoot," from stem of blastanein "to shoot forth," from blastos "sprout, germ," which is of unknown origin. Related: Blastemal; blastemic; blastematic.
blasto- Look up blasto- at
before vowels blast-, word-forming element used in scientific compounds to mean "germ, bud," from Greek blasto-, comb. form of blastos "sprout, germ," which is of unknown origin.
blastocyst (n.) Look up blastocyst at
1876, from blasto- + cyst.
blastula (n.) Look up blastula at
embryonic state, 1875, Modern Latin, from Greek blastos "sprout, germ" + diminutive ending -ula (see -ule).
blat (v.) Look up blat at
"make a bleating sound," 1846, U.S. colloquial, imitative. Related: Blatted; blatting. As a noun from 1904.
blatant (adj.) Look up blatant at
coined 1596 by Edmund Spenser in "The Faerie Queen," in blatant beast, a thousand-tongued monster representing slander; perhaps primarily alliterative, perhaps suggested by Latin blatire "to babble." It entered general use by 1650s as "noisy in an offensive and vulgar way;" the sense of "obvious, glaringly conspicuous" is from 1889. Related: Blatantly; blatancy.
blather (n.) Look up blather at
"nonsense, foolish talk," 1787, blether, from blather (v.).
blather (v.) Look up blather at
1520s, blether, Scottish, probably from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse blaðra "mutter, wag the tongue," perhaps of imitative origin, or from Proto-Germanic *blodram "something inflated" (the source of bladder). Related: Blathered; blathering.
blatherskite (n.) Look up blatherskite at
"one who talks blustering nonsense," c. 1650, bletherskate, in Scottish song "Maggie Lauder," which was popular with soldiers in the Continental Army in the American Revolution, hence the colloquial U.S. use for "talkative goof-for-nothing fellow; foolish talk," especially in early 19c. From blather (v.) + dialectal skite "contemptible person."
blaxploitation (n.) Look up blaxploitation at
1972, from black + exploitation.
blaze (v.1) Look up blaze at
"to burst into flame, burn brightly or vigorously," c. 1200, from blaze (n.1). To blaze away "fire (guns or cannon) continuously" is by 1776, hence "work with vigor and enthusiasm." Related: Blazed; blazing.
blaze (n.2) Look up blaze at
1630s, "light-colored mark or spot" on the face of a horse, cow, etc., northern English dialect, probably from Old Norse blesi "white spot on a horse's face," from Proto-Germanic *blas- "shining, white," from the same root as blaze (n.1). Middle Dutch or Low German cognates of the Norse word also have been suggested as the source. Applied 1660s in American English to marks cut on tree trunks to indicate a track; thus the verb meaning "to mark a trail" (1750). Related: Blazed; blazing.
blaze (v.2) Look up blaze at
"make public" (often in a bad sense, boastfully), late 14c., of uncertain origin, the verb not being found in Old English; perhaps from Middle Dutch blasen "to blow" (on a trumpet), from Proto-Germanic *blaes-an (source also of German blasen, Gothic -blesan), from PIE root *bhle- "to blow." Or connected to blaze (v.1) on the notion of "shine forth."
blaze (v.3) Look up blaze at
"to mark" (a tree, a trail), usually by cutting of a piece of bark so as to leave a white spot, 1750, American English, from blaze (n.) "white mark made on a tree" (1660s), from blaze (n.2).
blaze (n.1) Look up blaze at
"bright flame, fire," Old English blæse "a torch, firebrand; bright glowing flame," from Proto-Germanic *blas- "shining, white" (source also of Old Saxon blas "white, whitish," Middle High German blas "bald," originally "white, shining," Old High German blas-ros "horse with a white spot," Middle Dutch and Dutch bles, German Blesse "white spot," blass "pale, whitish"), from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn."
blazer (n.) Look up blazer at
1630s, "anything which blazes;" 1880 as "bright-colored loose jacket," in this sense British university slang, from blaze (n.1), in reference to the red flannel jackets worn by the Lady Margaret, St. John College, Cambridge, boating club. Earlier the word had been used in American English in the sense "something which attracts attention" (1845).
blazes (n.) Look up blazes at
euphemism for Hell, 1818, plural of blaze (n.1), in reference to the flames.
blazing (adj.) Look up blazing at
late 14c., "shining," also "vehement," present-participle adjective from blaze (v.1). As a mild or euphemistic epithet, attested from 1888 (no doubt suggesting damned and connected with the blazes, the euphemism for "Hell").
blazon (v.) Look up blazon at
1560s, "to depict or paint (armorial bearings)," from blazon (n.) or else from French blasonner, from the noun in French. Earlier as "to set forth decriptively" (1510s); especially "to vaunt or boast" (1530s); in this use probably from or influenced by blaze (v.2).
blazon (n.) Look up blazon at
"armorial bearings, coat of arms," late 13c., from Old French blason (12c.) "a shield, blazon," also "collar bone;" common Romanic (compare Spanish blason, Italian blasone, Portuguese brasao, Provençal blezo, the first two said to be French loan-words) but of uncertain origin. OED doubts, on grounds of sense, the connection proposed by 19c. French etymologists to Germanic words related to English blaze (n.1).
bleach (n.) Look up bleach at
1887, "an act of bleaching;" 1898, "a bleaching agent;" probably directly from bleach (v.). The Old English noun blæce meant "leprosy;" Late Old English also had blæco "paleness," and Middle English had blech "whitening or bleaching agent," but the modern words seem to be independent late 19c. formations from the verb.
bleach (v.) Look up bleach at
Old English blæcan, of cloth or fabric, "to make white by removing color, whiten" (by exposure to chemical agents or the sun), from Proto-Germanic *blaikjan "to make white" (source also of Old Saxon blek, Old Norse bleikr, Dutch bleek, Old High German bleih, German bleich "pale;" Old Norse bleikja, Dutch bleken, German bleichen "to make white, cause to fade"), from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn," also "shining white."

The same root probably produced black, perhaps because both black and white are colorless, or because both are associated in different ways with burning. Compare Old English scimian meaning both "to shine" and "to dim, grow dusky, grow dark," which is related to the source of shine. Intransitive sense "become white" is from 1610s. Related: Bleached; bleaching. The past participle in Middle English was sometimes blaught.
bleacher (n.) Look up bleacher at
1540s, "one who bleaches," agent noun from bleach (v.). The "bench for spectators at a sports field" sense (usually bleachers) is attested since 1889, American English; so named because the boards were bleached by the sun.
bleak (adj.) Look up bleak at
c. 1300, bleik, "pale, pallid," from Old Norse bleikr "pale, whitish, blond," from Proto-Germanic *blaika- "shining, white" (source also of Old Saxon blek "pale, shining," Dutch bleek, Old High German bleih, German bleich), from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn," also "shining white."

The original English sense is obsolete; the meaning "bare, windswept" is from 1530s; figurative sense of "cheerless" is from c. 1719. The same Germanic root produced Middle English blake "pale" (Old English blac), but this fell from use, probably from confusion with blæc "black" (the surname Blake can mean either "one of pale complexion" or "one of dark complexion"). Bleak has survived, not in the "pale" sense, but meaning only "bare, barren." Related: Bleakly; bleakness.
blear (v.) Look up blear at
"to dim (the vision) with tears, rheum, etc.," also "to have watery or rheumy eyes," early 14c., of uncertain origin, possibly from an unrecorded Old English *blerian, which is perhaps related to blur. Related: Bleared; blearing.
blear (adj.) Look up blear at
c. 1300, of the eyes, blere "watery, rheumy, sore or dimmed with watery discharge," from or related to blear (v.). Compare Middle High German blerre "having blurred vision," Low German bleeroged "blear-eyed."
bleary (adj.) Look up bleary at
"blurred, rheumy, dim," late 14c., from blear + -y (2). Related: Blearily; bleariness.
bleat (v.) Look up bleat at
Old English blætan, from West Germanic *bhle- (source also of Dutch blaten "to bleat"), of imitative origin (compare Greek blekhe "a bleating; the wailing of children," Old Church Slavonic blejat "to bleat," Latin flere "to weep"). Related: Bleated; bleating.
bleat (n.) Look up bleat at
"the cry of a sheep, goat, or calf," c. 1500, from bleat (v.).
bleb (n.) Look up bleb at
c. 1600, "blister or swelling," imitative. Also used for "bubble" (1640s), "protuberance on a cell surface" (1962). Compare blob. "In relation to blob, bleb expresses a smaller swelling" [OED].
bled Look up bled at
past tense and past participle of bleed (v.).
bleed (v.) Look up bleed at
Old English bledan, "to cause to lose blood, to let blood" (in Middle English and after, especially "to let blood from surgically"), also (intrans.) "to emit blood," from Proto-Germanic *blodjan "emit blood" (source also of Old Norse blæða, Dutch bloeden, German bluten), from PIE *bhlo-to- "swell, gush, spurt," or "that which bursts out," from suffixed form of root *bhel- (3) "to thrive, bloom."

Meaning "extort money from" is from 1670s. Of dyes or paints, "to be washed out," from 1862. Figuratively, of the heart, "to suffer anguish, feel pity or sorrow," late 14c.
bleeder (n.) Look up bleeder at
1756, "one who lets blood," agent noun from bleed (v.) in the transitive sense. As "one with hemophilia," from 1803, from the intransitive sense.
bleeding (adj.) Look up bleeding at
early 13c., present-participle adjective from bleed (v.). Figurative use is from 1796. As a euphemism for bloody, by 1858. In U.S. history, Bleeding Kansas, in reference to the slavery disputes in that territory 1854-60, is attested from 1856, said to have been first used by the New York "Tribune." The shell known as the bleeding tooth is attested from 1881.
bleeding (n.) Look up bleeding at
late 14c., "a flowing out of blood;" mid-15c. as "a drawing out of blood," verbal noun from bleed (v.).
bleeding heart (n.) Look up bleeding heart at
name applied to several types of flowering plant, 1690s; see bleeding (adj.) + heart (n.).

In the sense of "person liberally and excessively sympathetic" (especially toward those the speaker or writer deems not to deserve it) is attested by 1951, but said by many to have been popularized with reference to liberals (especially Eleanor Roosevelt) in 1930s by newspaper columnist Westbrook Pegler (1894-1969), though quotations are wanting; bleeding in a figurative sense of "generous" is from late 16c., and the notion of one's heart bleeding as a figure of emotional anguish is from late 14c.; the exact image here may be the "bleeding heart of Jesus."
bleep (v.) Look up bleep at
1957, "make an electronic noise," from bleep (n.); specific sense of "edit a sound over a word deemed unfit for broadcast" is from 1968 (earliest reference seems to be to the "Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" on U.S. television). Related: Bleeped; bleeping. Bleeper "pager consisting of a mini radio receiver that announces reception of signals by emitting a bleeping noise" is from 1964.
bleep (n.) Look up bleep at
"electronic noise," 1953 (originally in reference to a Geiger counter), imitative; later associated with Sputnik. As "bleeping sound edited over a spoken word deemed unfit for broadcast" from 1968.
blemish (n.) Look up blemish at
"a defect, flaw, imperfection," 1520s, from blemish (v.).
blemish (v.) Look up blemish at
mid-14c., "to disparage, dishonor, impair morally;" late 14c., "to damage or spoil, disfigure," from Old French blemiss- "to turn pale," extended stem of blemir, blesmir "to make pale; stain, discolor," also "to injure" (13c., Modern French blêmir), probably from Frankish *blesmjan "to cause to turn pale," or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *blas "shining, white," from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn," also "shining white."

From mid-15c. as "mar the beauty or soundness of." Usually in reference to something that is well-formed or otherwise excellent. Related: Blemished; blemishing.
blench (v.) Look up blench at
"shrink, start back, give way; flinch, wince, dodge," c. 1200, extended sense from Old English blencan "deceive, cheat" (obsolete in the original sense), from Proto-Germanic *blenk- "to shine, dazzle, blind" (source also of Old Norse blekkja "delude"), from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn," also "shining white." Related: Blenched; blenching.
blend (n.) Look up blend at
"mixture formed by blending," 1860, from blend (v.).
blend (v.) Look up blend at
c. 1300, blenden, "to mix in such a way as to become inextinguishable, mingle, stir up a liquid," in northern writers, from or akin to rare Old English blandan "to mix" (Mercian blondan) or Old Norse blanda "to mix," or a combination of the two; from Proto-Germanic *blandan "to mix," which comes via a notion of "to make cloudy" from an extended Germanic form of the PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn."

Compare Old Saxon and Old High German blantan, Gothic blandan, Middle High German blenden "to mix;" German Blendling "bastard, mongrel," and, outside Germanic, Lithuanian blandus "troubled, turbid, thick;" Old Church Slavonic blesti "to go astray." Figurative sense of "mingle closely" is from early 14c. Related: Blended; blending.