Blood is thicker than water
In modern society, the proverb "blood is thicker than water" is used to imply that family ties (blood) are always more important (thicker) than the ties you make among friends (water). It generally means that the bonds of family and common ancestry are stronger than the bonds between unrelated people (such as friendship).
The equivalent proverb in German (originally: Blut ist dicker als Wasser), first appeared in the medieval German beast epic Reinhart Fuchs (c. 1180 'Reynard the Fox') by Heinrich der Glîchezære, whose words in English read, 'Kin-blood is not spoilt by water.'
By 1670, the modern version was included in John Ray's collected 'Proverbs,' and later appeared in Sir Walter Scott's novel 'Guy Mannering' (1815) "Weel — Blud's thicker than water — she's welcome to the cheeses." and in English reformer Thomas Hughes's 'Tom Brown's School Days' (1857).
The phrase was first attested in the United States in 'Journal of Athabasca Department' (1821)."
On June 25, 1859, U.S. Navy Commodore Josiah Tattnall, in command of the American Squadron in Far Eastern waters, made this adage a part of American history when explaining why he had given aid to the British squadron in an attack on Taku Forts at the mouth of the Pei Ho River, thereby infringing strict American neutrality.
More recently, Aldous Huxley's 'Ninth Philosopher's Song' (1920) 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.'
- Hendrickson, Robert (1987). The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins. New York: Facts on File, Inc. ISBN 978-0-8160-1012-7.
- Rogers, James T. (1985). The Dictionary of Clichés. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-345-33814-3.
- Titelman, Gregory Y. (1996). Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-679-44554-8.
- Flexner, Stuart & Doris (1993). Wise Words and Wives' Tales: The Origins, Meanings and Time-Honored Wisdom of Proverbs and Folk Sayings Olde and New. New York: Avon Books. p. 208. ISBN 978-0-380-76238-5.