From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Blee



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English blee, ble, from Old English blēo, bleoh (color, hue; complexion, form), from Proto-West Germanic *blīu (color, blee).

Cognate with Scots ble, blee, blie (color, complexion), Old Frisian blī, blie (color, hue; complexion) (whence North Frisian bläy, Saterland Frisian Bläier), Middle Dutch blie, blye (color). Doublet of bly.


blee (countable and uncountable, plural blees)

  1. (rare, chiefly poetic) Color, hue. [from 9th to early 17th c.]
    • 1850, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “Rhyme of the Duchess May”, in Poems. [...] In Two Volumes, new edition, volume II, London: Chapman & Hall, 193, Piccadilly. (Late, 186 Strand), →OCLC, stanza XXVI, page 57:
      Then the captain, young Lord Leigh, with his eyes so grey of blee,— / Toll slowly.
    • 1893, “A Story of Mothering Sunday.”, in The Sunday at Home, volume 40, Religious Tract Society, page 381:
      IT was a Mothering Sunday ; / The sky was clear to see / Above the white, white snowdrop, / And the crocus of golden blee.
    • 1896, Emily Henrietta Hickey, “The Ship from Tirnanoge”, in Poems by Emily Hickley, page 48:
      The captain wonderful to see / With eyes a-change in depth and blee; / A-change, a-change for ever and aye, / Blue, and purple, and black, and gray; / And hair like the weed that finds a home / In the depth of a trail of white sea-foam.
    • 1913, Francis Thompson, "Stolen Fruit of Eden-Tree (‘The Schoolmaster for God’)", in Brigid M. Boardman (ed.), The Poems of Francis Thompson: A New Edition, Continuum, 2001, lines 59 to 64.
      The fruit thereof is fair and fine, / And golden of its blee, / That well the Son of God might think / It came of Paradise—tree, / Nor deem how its root with cold Pit-fire / Is suckled evilly.
    • 1931 October, Padraic Colum, “Before the Fair”, in Lascelles Abercrombie, editor, New English Poems: A Miscellany of Contemporary Verse Never before Published, London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 14 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, →OCLC, page 142:
      "Live, live," and "Here, here," the blackbird / From the top of the bare ash-tree, / Over the acres whistles / With beak of yellow blee.
  2. (archaic) Color of the face, complexion, coloring. [from 9th to early 17th c.]
    • "The Felon Sow of Rokeby and the Freers of Richmond", in Christopher Clarkson, The History of Richmond, in the County of York, Thomas Bowman (publ., 1821, appendix, cvii.
      The sew she would not Latin heare, / But rudely rushed at the Frear, / That he blinked all his blee ; / And when she would have taken her hold, / The Fryar leaped as Jesus wold, / And bealed him with a tree.
    • "The Gay Goss-hawk", The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott: first series, containing Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, Sir Tristrem, and Dramatic Pieces, Baudry's European Library (publ.), 1838, page 189 (glossed as “bloom”).
      And pale, pale grew her rosy cheeck, / That was sae bright of blee,4 / And she seem'd to be as surely dead / As any one could be.
    • [1885], Richard F[rancis] Burton, translator and editor, “The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad”, in A Plain and Literal Translation of the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments, now Entituled The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night: With Introduction Explanatory Notes on the Manners and Customs of Moslem Men and a Terminal Essay upon the History of The Nights, Shammar edition, volume I, [s.n.]: Printed by the Burton Club for private subscribers only, →OCLC, page 85:
      Thereupon sat a lady bright of blee, with brow beaming brilliancy, the dream of philosophy, whose eyes were fraught with Babel's gramarye and her eyebrows were arched as for archery; her breath breathed ambergris and perfumery and her lips were sugar to taste and carnelian to see.
    • 1927, P. Geyl (tr.), The Tale of Beatrice, Martinus Nijhoff (publ.), page 5.
      So there they sat a long long time, / Nor could I tell you in my rhyme / How oft their cheeks did change their blee.
  3. (archaic) Consistency, form, texture. [from 9th to early 17th c.]
    • 1880, Algernon Charles Swinburne, “The Poet and the Woodlouse”, in The Heptalogia, or, The Seven against Sense: A Cap with Seven Bells (Specimens of Modern Poets), London: Chatto & Windus, Piccadilly, →OCLC, page 46:
      I am thrilled half cosmically through by cryptophantic surgings / Till the rhythmic hills roar silent through a spongious kind of blee: / And earth's soul yawns disembowelled of her pancreatic organs, / Like a madrepore if mesmerized, in rapt catalepsy.
  4. (East Anglia) General resemblance, likeness; appearance, aspect, look.
    • 16th c., Nicholas Grimald, The life and poems of Nicholas Grimald, Yale Studies in English, Volume 69, 1925, page 379.
      Meane beautie doth soone fade: therof playn hee, / Who nothing loves in woman, but her blee.
    • [1830, Robert Forby, “BLEE”, in The Vocabulary of East Anglia; an Attempt to Record the Vulgar Tongue of the Twin Sister Counties, Norfolk and Suffolk, as It Existed in the Last Twenty Years of the Eighteenth Century, and still Exists; with Proof of Its Antiquity from Etymology and Authority. [...] In Two Volumes, volume I, London: Printed by and for J[ohn] B[oyer] Nichols and Son, 25, Parliament Street, →OCLC, pages 27–28:
      BLEE, s[ubstantive] general resemblance, not "colour and complexion," as the dictt. [dictionaries in general] give it; Mr. Nares asserts that it was obsolete in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. If so, we have a very extraordinary instance of the renascence of a word; for it is in use every day in the sense here given to it. Ex. "That boy has a strong blee of his father." br. [Brockett's Glossary] in the sense of complexion. ch. p. g. [Chaucer; Percy's Glossary]]
Related terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Associated with Smash Hits magazine, where it may have originated.



  1. (informal) Expressing disgust or trepidation.
    • 1988, Sinclair User, number 79:
      Bikers [] tend to appear at the edges of the road and then zoom in front of your car. [] As you have probably found out already, one touch of these and it's time to order the wooden box. (Blee!)
    • 1991, Nick Roberts, Cavemania (video game review) in Crash (issue 87, page 47)
      It's a boring life being a cave man. No telly, no video and not even a Spectrum! Blee! All you can do is eat, but Brontosaurus steaks can be very tough.





  1. night
    Aŋge blee ndaa fuŋu ta.
    Last night I had a house guest.