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.
In popular culture
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.'
Blood is thicker than Water is...
- a song from the 2014 album Till Death, La Familia of American rock-band Ill Niño.
- the title of a series of mixtapes by Nu Jerzey Devil, The Game, Black Wall Street Records, Dipset and Lil Wayne, produced by DJ Haze.
- a song title by Impaled Nazarene, off the 1994 album Suomi Finland Perkele.
- the beginning of the French electro-goth dancefloor hit Rain Of Blood by Die Form on the 1997 album Duality.
- quoted by Fry in the 2000 Futurama episode A Clone of My Own when he believes he will get the inheritance from the professor.
- a book by W. A. Hoffman, now out of print.
- a lyric in the Dream Theater song 'Honor Thy Father' from the 2003 album Train of Thought, which is about drummer Mike Portnoy's hatred of his stepfather.
- mentioned on the 2003 Jedi Mind Tricks album Visions of Gandhi in the song "The rage of angels" in reference to the life in hoods.
- the title of a Black Label Society song, off the 2006 album Shot to Hell, released as a single in 2007.
- a lyric in a Circa Survive song, off the 2007 album On Letting Go.
- tattooed on the forearm of NBA player Trevor Ariza, dedicated to his little brother who fell out of a window when he was 6 years old.
- the theme of the 27th season of the reality show Survivor.
Thicker than Water is...
- the name of a 1997 album and song by H2O
- a tattoo that M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold has across his chest.
- the name of a tattoo studio at 181 Avenue B in New York City.
- the name of a 2014 Swedish TV show (in original 'Tjockare än vatten').
H.C. Trumbull writes:
- We, in the West, are accustomed to say that "blood is thicker than water" ; but the Arabs have the idea that blood is thicker than milk, than a mother's milk. With them, any two children nourished at the same breast are called " milk-brothers," or "sucking brothers"; and the tie between such is very strong. [..] But the Arabs hold that brothers in the covenant of blood are closer than brothers at a common breast; that those who have tasted each other's blood are in a surer covenant than those who have tasted the same milk together ; that "blood-lickers," as the blood-brothers are sometimes called, are more truly one than "milk-brothers," or "sucking brothers"; that, indeed, blood is thicker than milk, as well as thicker than water. 
Authors such as Albert Jack and R. Richard Pustelniak propose that the word "blood" in the modern Western proverb must originally have also referred to such a blood covenant, and suggest that "water" refers to "water of the womb". The meaning of the proverb then inverts to "chosen friends are more important than family".
- 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.
- http://www.livemixtapes.com/djs/110/nu_jerzey_devil.html, retrieved 2014-02-25
- http://www.alienperspective.com/21243.html, retrieved 2014-02-25
- Hoffman, Wynette A. (2002), Blood Is Thicker Than Water, Alien Perspective, ISBN 978-0972109802
- http://www.csnwashington.com/basketball-washington-wizards/talk/arizas-story-one-love-and-strength, retrieved 2014-02-25
- http://www.a7xes.com/page250.php, retrieved 2014-02-25
- http://www.needlesandsins.com/2010/02/valentines-day-nyc-tattoo-specials.html, retrieved 2014-02-25
- http://thickerthanwatertattoo.tumblr.com/, retrieved 2014-02-25
- Trumbull, H. Clay (1893), The Blood Covenant - A Primitive Rite And Its Bearings On Scripture (2nd ed.), Philadelphia: John D. Wattles, p. 10 ff.
- Jack, Albert (2005), Shaggy Dogs and Black Sheep: The Origins of Even More Phrases We Use Every Day, Penguin Books Ltd (UK), ISBN 978-0140515732
- Pustelniak, R. Richard (1994), "II. Terms", "How Shall I Know?" - The Blood Covenant, retrieved 2014-02-22