1. Bloody developed its meaning in BrE as ‘a vague epithet expressing anger, resentment, etc.’ in the 18c, and rapidly became a mere intensive, especially in negative contexts (not a bloody one). The OED called it ‘foul language’, and as recently as 1995 the Concise Oxford Dictionary called it ‘coarse slang’; but since then, it has seemed increasingly tame, and other words having taken on its former mantle of offensiveness:

• You want to use your bloody loaf, Stubbs, or we'll never win this war the way you're carrying on —Brian Aldiss, 1971.

2. As an adverb bloody has been used conversationally as an intensive since the later 17c in combinations such as bloody drunk, bloody angry, and bloody ill. G. B. Shaw was entitled to expect a sharp reaction from the audience when in 1914 he caused Eliza Doolittle to exclaim ‘Walk! Not bloody likely.’ As with the adjective, however, this use weakened considerably in effect during the 20c, and formed a regular part of the language of television dramas in expressions such as serves you bloody right and you bloody well do it or else.
3. These uses are recorded in American dictionaries, but are not properly part of AmE. It is a pleasing myth that Australians use them more freely and vigorously than in other parts of the English-speaking world, and the colourful entry in the Australian National Dictionary (1988) appears to support it, with examples of use steeped in the language of pioneering adversity and ‘ranging in force from mildly irritating to execrable’:

• You must think yourself a damned clever bushman, talking about tracking a bloody dingo over bloody ground where a bloody regiment of newly-shod horses would scarcely leave a bloody track —M. J. O'Reilly, 1944.

Modern English usage. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bloody — is the adjectival form of blood but may also be used as an expletive attributive (intensifier) in Australia, Britain, Ireland, Canada, South East Asia, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka. Nowadays it is considered (by most of the population of these… …   Wikipedia

  • bloody — bloody, sanguinary, sanguine, sanguineous, gory are comparable when they mean affected by or involving the shedding of blood. Bloody may be used in place of any of the succeeding words, but it specifically and distinctively applies to that which… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Bloody — Blood y, a. [AS. bl[=o]dig.] 1. Containing or resembling blood; of the nature of blood; as, bloody excretions; bloody sweat. [1913 Webster] 2. Smeared or stained with blood; as, bloody hands; a bloody handkerchief. [1913 Webster] 3. Given, or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • bloody — bloody; bloody·bones; bloody·noun; un·bloody; …   English syllables

  • bloody — bləd ē adj, blood·i·er; est 1 a) containing or made up of blood b) of or contained in the blood 2 a) smeared or stained with blood b) dripping blood: BLEEDING <a bloody nose> blood·i·ly bləd əl ē adv …   Medical dictionary

  • bloody — [adj1] bleeding blood soaked, bloodspattered, bloodstained, crimson, ensanguined, gaping, gory, grisly, hematic, hemic, imbrued, open, raw, sanguinary, sanguine, unstaunched, unstopped, wounded; concept 485 bloody [adj2] hard fought bloodthirsty …   New thesaurus

  • Bloody — Blood y, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Bloodied}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Bloodying}.] To stain with blood. Overbury. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Bloody 27 — can refer to* The nickname for a portion of Highway 27 U.S. Route 27 located near the Florida Everglades * The title of a 2008 Horror Film …   Wikipedia

  • bloody — index brutal Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • bloody — ► ADJECTIVE (bloodier, bloodiest) 1) covered with or composed of blood. 2) involving much violence or cruelty. ► VERB (bloodies, bloodied) ▪ cover or stain with blood. DERIVATIVES …   English terms dictionary

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