Blood is thicker than water
In modern society, the proverb "blood is thicker than water" is used to imply that family ties are always more important than the ties you make among friends.
The origins of this proverb are not known, and while most agree on the meaning of "blood", the reference to "water" is less obvious. One possible meaning is that water evaporates and leaves no trace.
The equivalent proverb in German (originally: Blut ist dicker als Wasser), first appeared in the medieval German beast epic Reinhart Fuchs (c. 1180; English: Reynard the Fox) by Heinrich der Glîchezære, whose words in English read, "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.
Authors Albert Jack and R. Richard Pustelniak claim the original meaning of the expression was that the ties between people who've made a blood covenant were stronger than ties formed by "the water of the womb" (i.e. family). However, neither author gives any evidence for this claim.
Although not specifically related to the expression "blood is thicker than water", H.C. Trumbull notes an interesting comparison of blood and milk in the Arab world:
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. 
In popular culture
||It has been suggested that this section be split into a new article titled Blood is thicker than water (disambiguation). (Discuss) Proposed since December 2014.|
More recently, Aldous Huxley's Ninth Philosopher's Song (1920) approached the proverb differently, stating, "Blood, as all men know, than water's thicker / But water's wider, thank the Lord, than blood."
"Blood is thicker than water" is:
- 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.
- a book by W. A. Hoffman, now out of print.
- 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.
"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 English translation of the name of a 2014 Swedish TV show, Tjockare än vatten.
- the title of the 8th episode of the American TV series Under the Dome.
- 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.
- 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
- "Blog by someone who read Jack's book".
This book was published in 2005/2006. It’s a popular history book, by which I mean there are no footnotes, endnotes, bibliography, or any extended discussion of his sources. I can’t follow his trail. So we’re officially taking his word for it. The people he thanks in his acknowledgements are lawyers, the hosts of a t.v. show he was on, and his publishers, not a librarian or an archivist.
- Trumbull, H. Clay (1893), The Blood Covenant - A Primitive Rite And Its Bearings On Scripture (2nd ed.), Philadelphia: John D. Wattles, p. 10 ff.
- 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
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