Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bloody adj.

also bleedy
[ bloody adv. although a single example vilifiying a ‘bloody thief’ has been found for 1599, thus predating the adv.; Grose wrote in 1796 of how popular bloody was among the contemporary London underworld. There is no doubt that, along with the transported felons of the period, it made its way to the penal colonies of Botany Bay. Fifty years later it was well-established. In his book Travels in New South Wales (1847), Alexander Marjoribanks noted the prevalence of the word, claiming that he had heard a bullock-driver use it 27 times in 15 minutes, a rate of speech, he then calculated, that over a 50-year period would produce some 18,200,000 repetitions of the ‘disgusting word’. The Sydney Bulletin called it ‘the Australian adjective’ in its edition of 18 August 1894, explaining that ‘it is more used, and used more exclusively by Australians, than by any other allegedly civilized nation’. The term gained its final sanctification as the ‘Great Australian Adjective’ when W.T. Goodge used it as the title for one of the poems he included in his Hits! Skits! and Jingles! (1899)]

1. a general negative adj., abominable or terrible; esp. in the UK and Aus., where it is so widespread as to be termed ‘the great Australian adjective’.

[UK]Middleton & Rowley Old Law (1656) IV i: Bloody theefe, Come out from that place.
[UK]J. Mackcoull Abuses of Justice 30: Damn your eyes, you bloody thief.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: The favourite oaths of the thieves of the present day are, [...] ‘I wish my bloody eyes may drop out if it is not true!’ [...] ‘Bloody end to me!’.
[Ire]Spirit of Irish Wit 45: ‘Bloody bad luck to him’.
[UK]W. Perry London Guide 10: The great man threatened to kick him [...] and applied to him the words — ‘fool, rascal, and b— theif’ .
[UK]‘Bill Truck’ Man o’ War’s Man (1843) 72: Besides, what is the use of making such a bloody nitty about nothing?
[UK]Navy at Home I 8: My eyes, not so fast — don’t gammon a fellow — here's a lad wants something as well as yourselves — you've no ’casion to be in such a b—y hurry.
[US]W.A. Caruthers Kentuckian in N.Y. I 20: I reckon I did take a hand or so aginst the bloody Injins.
[Aus]Satirist & Sporting Chron. (Sydney) 4 Feb. 2/1: D—n your eyes if you don’t pack that wood I’ll break your b—y neck.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 20 Sept. 2/4: The ruffian saying all the time ‘you bl—dy wretch I’ll learn you to take my character away’.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 30 Jan. 2/1: She called me a b—y free immigrant and said [...] she would jump my b—y guts out.
[Aus]A. Marjoribanks Travels in New South Wales 58: A bushranger will call out, ‘Stop, or I’ll blow your bloody brains out.’.
[UK]Yorks. Gaz. 24 June 6/6: He then doubled up his shirtsleeves and said [...] ‘I have come for a b—y row, and a b—y row I will have’.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 24 July 2/6: Och, yer b— murherin villyan!
[UK]Chester Chron. 25 June 6/5: To hell with the b— Pope, and down with all Papists.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor III 306/1: By G--! if you ain’t soon mizzled, I’ll crack your b----y skull open for you!
[Aus]Golden Age (Queanbeyan, NSW) 4 Sept. 3/2: [A]bout every fourth word Master TOM turns out being that sanguineous oath that throws such a crimson glow over the conversation of young gentlemen of his stamp [...] Does a man ask TOM if that filly can race? TOM’S oath, ‘she can race a — hurricane’.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 6/1: Blasting her bloody eyes for such luck, she would call for the ‘max,’ and say that was all the ‘flat’ had in his ‘poke’ or ‘kick’.
[Aus]Portland Guardian & Normanby Gen. Advertiser (Vic.) 27 Oct. n.p.: I register a dark and bloody oath that you shan’t sing.
[UK]G.F. Northall ‘Momus’ Misc. 67: I like to sing of bloody work, / Of dismal war and wrack.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 28 Feb. 11/2: When we get over our axels in a bog an’ start fair an’ square on the cussin’ racket, I guess the recordin’ angel can’t go loafing round with his hands in his breeches pockets then, you bet. Whoa-up, yer b— Strawberry, where y’ goin’ t’ now?
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 247: The lad has lost his gun, lads, and we must get the bloody thing for ’im.
[UK]‘Walter’ My Secret Life (1966) II 305: If ever you tell I’ll cut your bloody throat.
[US]F. Norris Vandover and the Brute (1914) 78: The bloody, bloomin’, bloated swell!
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 9: Bloody, a word used very often inadvertently by the uneducated.
[Aus]W.T. Goodge ‘The Great Australian Adjective’ in Bulletin 11 Dec. 26: He jumped across the ---- horse / And cantered off, of ---- course!
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 12 Oct. 3/6: [H]e is suffering from a bad attack of white-eyeism, and even the everyday word ‘damn’ makes his eyebrows bristle, while the rude, rough, rudely Australian b—y produces a cold sweat all over his body.
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 2 Apr. 287: You are a b— fine fellow; you had better look after yourself or you’ll go home with your b—head under your arm tied with a bit of string.
[UK]J. Masefield Everlasting Mercy 28: I’ll bloody him a bloody fix, / I’ll bloody burn his bloody ricks.
[Aus]parlty report in Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW) 22 July 1/2: Mr. Laffer: You said more. You said: ‘What did you want to kiss that damned book for?’ The whole thing is a bloody farce.
[Ire]Joyce Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man 228: A flaming bloody sugar, that’s what he is!
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day By Day 5 Sept. [synd. col.] He was asked what impressed him most [about New York] and the bloody bounder replied: ‘Fat!’.
[US]Dos Passos Three Soldiers 279: ‘But what do you have to do?’ ‘Do? Nothing,’ cried Henslowe. ‘Not a blooming bloody goddam thing!’.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 91: What? Mr Dedalus asked. That confirmed bloody hobbledyhoy is it?
[US]E. Walrond Tropic Death (1972) 56: How de bleedy hell dem heckspeck a man fi’ trabble tree days an’ tree whole a nights beout giv’ him any hot watah.
[US]T. Wolfe Look Homeward, Angel (1930) 344: In three days more we’ll be out of the bloody show and back home on leave.
[UK]G. Greene Gun for Sale (1973) 16: ‘A bloody bully,’ the girl said.
[UK]Mass-Observation Report on Juvenile Drinking 11: Look at those bloody little bitches over there, they want their bloody arses smacked.
[US]N. Cassady Letter in Charters (1993) 211: I got to work now on script so I can pay Uncle Sam his bloody tax.
[US]Kerouac On The Road (1972) 25: I was in such a bloody hurry to get to the gang in Denver.
[UK]T. Taylor Baron’s Court All Change (2011) 23: I felt like kicking her in the teeth and telling her [...] to mind her own bloody business.
[UK]P. Theroux Picture Palace 69: Then where’s your bloody camera?
[US]C. Hiaasen Skin Tight 34: First the Mafia hitman . . . now a bloody TV crew.
[UK]Guardian G2 15 Mar. 4: Have bloody cod and chips darlin’.
[Aus]T. Winton ‘Immunity’ Turning (2005) 295: My father said I was a bloody sook.
R. O’Neill ‘Ocker’ in The Drover’s Wives (2019) 180: ‘There’s a bloody snake out here!’.
[Scot]G. Armstrong Young Team 55: ‘Yi dinnae bring bloody weapons tae school’.

2. usu. of a person or experience, unpleasant.

[US]J.K. Paulding John Bull in America 123: For my part, I am [...] ready to say, or swear to anything, to be revenged on these bloody Yankees.
[UK]B.E.F. Times 15 Aug. (2006) 212/1: C.O. – ‘Some life, isn’t it?’ Adj. ‘B----y.’.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Mufti 149: Have you ever sat down to a more perfectly bloody tea?
[Aus](con. WWI) A.G. Pretty Gloss. of Sl. [...] in the A.I.F. 1921–1924 (rev. t/s) n.p.: bloody. [...] (2) unpleasant.
[UK]R. Hall Well of Loneliness (1976) 231: Damn the thing, it’s too utterly bloody! It’s ruined my gloves, and now look at the table!
[UK]N. Marsh Death in Ecstasy 285: ‘You’re looking ill.’ ‘I’m feeling bloody.’.
[UK] in Tom Harrisson Mass-Observation War Factory: A Report 1: When they send you somewhere quite bloody they usually try to keep you there.
[UK]P. Larkin Letter 20 May in Thwaite Sel. Letters (1992) 164: I shouldn’t mind leaving England, only Belfast is equally bloody, I believe.
[US]K. Cook Wake in Fright [ebook] ‘How do you feel after last night?’ said Joe, startling Grant a little. ‘Bloody’.
[UK]G. Melly Owning Up (1974) 66: The students, like most French students, were conceited and bloody.
[US]Current Sl. V:4 8: Bloody, adj. Disgusting; provoking (an emotional term used to show anger, impatience, or indignation (Canadian).
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Godson 162: ‘You could be a ring-in. A lousy bloody commoner’.
[Ire](con. 1920s) L. Redmond Emerald Square 31: The Granny couldn’t stand him and made no bones about it. ‘That’s a bloddy get, if ever I saw one.’.

3. rakish.

[US]A. Peirce Rebelliad 76: They roar’d and bawl’d, and were so bloody, / As to besiege Lord Bibo’s study.
[US]B.H. Hall College Words (rev. edn) 29: bloody. Formerly a college term for daring, rowdy, impudent.

4. as infix.

[UK]K. Waterhouse Jubb (1966) 62: You peeping bloody Tom!
[UK]T. Lewis GBH 56: ‘Fan-bloody-tastic’.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Real Thing 80: He could be up to any-bloody-thing.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Between the Devlin 44: ‘Jesus bloody Christ!’ exclaimed Les.
[UK]Observer (London) Mag. 16 Oct. 55/2: Isn’t my money as good as Giles bloody Coren’s?
[Ire]L. McInerney Rules of Revelation 170: ‘Mother bloody Jones’.

In exclamations

SE in slang uses

In compounds

bloody back (n.) [his scarlet jacket; ? extra ref. to the frequent floggings of army discipline]

a soldier; also attrib.

[US]Mass. Gazette Extraordinary 21 June n.p.: Come you Rascals, you bloody Backs, you Lobster Scoundrels; fire if you dare, G-d damn you [R].
Stamford mercury 27 Mar. 1/2: [from N.Y. Gazette] SDamn you, Randall, will you take quarters from such a bloody-back scoundrel?
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[US]J.R. Shaw Life and Travels 21: The bakers very boldly answered: ‘this bread is for gentlemen and not for you d----d bloody backs’.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lancaster Gaz. 22 May 8/3: I really believe that the author merely wished for notoriety. If so, these ‘bloody backs’ have serve his purpose.
J. Abbott Amer. Hist. 188: They dared the bloody back to fire, and pressed closer and closer upon him.
bloody bucket (n.) (also bucket of blood, tub of blood) [the original 19C Bucket of Blood, Shorty Young’s tavern in Havre, Montana; its reputation spread and the term became generic for similar establishments; but note ref. to 18C ‘a dwelling in Water Lane, off Fleet Street, known as “Blood Bowl house” [...] where there seldom passed a month without the commission of a murder’ (in Peter Ackroyd’s London, 2000); this public house, properly known as the Red Lion, is pictured in plate IX of Hogarth’s Industry & Idleness] (US)

1. a notably tough saloon or bar.

[US]J.A. Riis How the Other Half Lives 212: The Fourth Ward points with pride to the honorable record of the conductors of its ‘Tub of Blood,’ and a dozen bar-rooms with less startling titles.
[US]Will Ezel [instrumental title] Bucket of Blood.
[US](con. 1870s) A. Carey Memoirs of a Murder Man 7: The Burnt Rag, Satan’s Circus, Hell’s Kitchen, Cockran’s Roost, McGuirk’s Suicide Hall, the Bucket of Blood, Billy McGlory’s Place, the Slide, and other notorious rendezvous.
[US]J. McNulty ‘This Place on Third Avenue’ in This Place on Third Avenue (2001) 3: This place is a saloon [...] It isn’t tough like some of the buckets-of-blood along the avenue.
[US] ‘Badman Dan and Two-Gun Green’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 127: I was tending bar, I’ll never forget. / It was the Bucket of Blood where the two first met.
[US]Winick & Kinsie Lively Commerce 175: Many servicemen prefer the quieter spots but others are attracted to the ‘tubs of blood’.
[US]R.D. Pharr S.R.O. (1998) 12: [of a welfare hotel] All S.R.O.s were turning to Welfare joints [...] but at least it would seem that this wasn’t a bucket of blood...yet.
[US]E. Torres After Hours 216: Lloyd told me you runnin’ a bucket of blood.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) H. Huncke ‘Ed Leary’ in Eve. Sun Turned Crimson (1998) 123: At the corner of Eighth Avenue and Forty-second Street there used to be a notorious bar [...] known as the Bucket of Blood — although that wasn’t the real name.
[US]Rebennack & Rummel Under A Hoodoo Moon 220: He worked the other joints, the buckets-of-blood.
[US]G. Pelecanos Night Gardener 20: The was [...] neither a bucket of blood nor a home for gentrifiers.

2. used lit. or fig. as attrib. use of sense 1.

[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 23 Nov. 2/2: The husband [...] is an author of penny dreadfuls and bucket of-blood dramas.
[US]T. Runyon In For Life 147: High jinks in some frontier town bucket-of-blood saloon.
[US] in S. Harris Hellhole 171: They sit with you [...] around a scarred wooden table in one of their own Bloody Bucket bars on the Bowery.
[US]E. Grogan Ringolevio 99: This dislike [of strangers] gave the store a bucket-of-blood reputation.
[US]T. Pluck ‘Hot Rod Heart’ in Life During Wartime 106: The town welcomed his speed shop as they would [...] a bucket-of-blood tavern that served negroes alongside whites.

3. a tough area of a town or city, orig. that which surrounded a local rough tavern.

[[UK]A.W. Miller diary 26 June 🌐 The British call our camp site ‘The Bucket of Blood’ because we are under shell fire & many men have been killed here].
[US]C. Himes Rage in Harlem (1969) 93: It is a truck rutted street of violence and danger, known in the underworld as the Bucket-of-Blood.
bloody jemmy (n.) [jemmy n.1 (3)]

an uncooked sheep’s head.

[Aus]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc.
[UK]Norfolk Chron. 22 Feb. 4/2: He was told when he stood for Norwich that he had voted for the Anatomy Bill *which he did not) and they said he was a ‘bloody jemmy’ (Laughter).
[UK]Bell’s Life in London 22 Apr. 4/5: He contrived to hit Donovan heavily [...] damaging his nut so materially as to give it all the appearance, as Sir Robert Peel would say, of ‘a sanguinary James’, or, as the defunct Scorggins would have vulgarly expressed it, ‘a bloody jemmy’.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]N. Devon Jrnl 23 Jan. 6/2: Brown, who was shouting ‘Beef!’ and said something about a ‘bloody Jemmy’.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
bloody mary (n.) [pun on Mary I of England (1516–58), known popularly as Bloody Mary for her vindictive attacks on Protestantism]

(US) a menstruating woman, used by a woman of herself, e.g. I’m bloody mary today; thus the menstrual period itself.

Word 4 183: Female anthropomorphisms [...] are numerous [...] others make direct references to blood, like I’m Bloody Mary today . . The use of red or blood in speaking of menstruation is more often found in male speech than in female: the Red Sea’s out, she’s got the bloody monthlies, and blood and sand.
[US]Baker et al. CUSS 82: Bloody Mary be menstruating.
[US]L. Pederson ‘Urban Word Geog.’ AS XLVI:1/2 82: Menstrual period [...] bloody Mary.
[US]J. Ellroy Blood on the Moon 101: ‘Bloody Mary. I could only get together with her for two weeks outta the month, her period lasted so long’.
[US]M. Goggans ‘The Art of the Menstrual Cycle’ 🌐 Throughout the years, the woman’s menstrual cycle has been looked upon as something of great negativity. In fact, common words for referring to the female function have included ‘the curse’, ‘Bloody Mary’, ‘Big Red’, and ‘Being on the rag’, just to name a few.
bloody Monday (n.) [thus the episode in Rudyard Kipling’s Stalky and Co. (1899) when the headmaster canes the entire school before sending them home]

the last day of the school term, on which holidays begin and on which punishments are trad. given out.

[UK]R. Verney letter to Father Winchester College 18 May n.p.: We shall breack up on the Whensday before holy Thursday: And Sr. I would desire you to let your horses be here on the Satterday following that I may be going on Bloddy Munday, upon which day all the Children [...] Goe home & after that day noebody stays but some of the Children which the Warden makes stay here for some notorious action they have committed [OED].
[UK]GarrickPrologue spoke to Much Ado about Nothing’ in Annual Register (1766) 286: I, like a boy who long has truant play’d [...] On bloody Monday take my fearful stand / And often eye the birchen-scepter’d hand .

In phrases

bloody flag is out [orig. in Shakespeare’s Henry V (1598–9): ‘Stand for your own; unwind your bloody flag’; the aggressiveness that so often accompanies heavy drinking]

a phr. signifying that a person is drunk.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: The flag of defiance or bloody flag is out, sea phrase signifying the man is drunk and alluding to the redness of his face.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.

In exclamations