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


Alternative forms[edit]


Coined in 1867. Compound of blood +‎ bath, the latter used referring to a metaphorical deluge. Compare West Frisian bloedbad (bloodbath), Dutch bloedbad (bloodbath), German Blutbad (bloodbath), Danish blodbad (bloodbath), Norwegian Bokmål blodbad (bloodbath), Swedish blodbad (bloodbath), Icelandic blóðbad (bloodbath).



bloodbath (plural bloodbaths)

  1. Indiscriminate killing or slaughter; a massacre.
    • 1814, Robert Jamieson, “Stark Tiderich and Olger Danske”, in Illustrations of northern antiquities, from the earlier Tentonie and Scandinavian romances: being an abstract of the Book of heroes, and Nibelungen lay; with translation of metrical tales, from the Old German, Danish, Swedish, and Icelandie languages; with notes and dissertations[1], Edinburgh: James Ballantyne and Co., translation of Kæmpe Viser, Popular Heroic and Romantic Ballads, translated from the Northern Languages, with Notes and Illustrations, page 272:
      There lay the steed; here lay the man; Gude friends that day did twin: They leuch na a' to the feast that cam Whan the het bluid-bath was done.
    • 22 March 2012, Scott Tobias, AV Club The Hunger Games[2]
      In movie terms, it suggests Paul Verhoeven in Robocop/Starship Troopers mode, an R-rated bloodbath where the grim spectacle of children murdering each other on television is bread-and-circuses for the age of reality TV, enforced by a totalitarian regime to keep the masses at bay.
  2. (sports) An aggressive or very violent contest or confrontation.
    • 1951, Tim Cohane, “Be Each, Pray God, a Gentlemen!”, in The Yale Football Story[3], New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, page 93:
      Although the Hampden Park blood bath of '94 caused Yale and Harvard to break off football relations for the next two years, they kept close watch on each other.
  3. (figurative) An upset (as of a game with unexpected results, or a national presidential convention) or heavy defeat.
    • 2022 October 16, Pippa Crerar, “Liz Truss fights for survival as even allies say she could have only days left”, in The Guardian[4]:
      Robert Halfon, a senior Tory backbencher, warned that a general election now would be a “bloodbath” for his party.
  4. (figurative, business) A large financial loss or massive layoff brought about by negative economic conditions.
    • 1989, “Richard Daley Wins Chicago Mayoral Race; Blacks Fail to Unite Behind Tim Evans”, in Robert E. Johnson, editor, Jet Magazine[5], volume 76, Chicago: Johnson Publishing Company, National Report, page 9:
      In an interview after the victory, Daley sought to assure Blacks that there would be no personnel bloodbath at City Hall.
  5. A bath taken in warm blood used as a restorative or medical treatment.
    • 1834, “On Blood-Baths: An Historical Notice.”, in The London Medical Gazette; Being a Weekly Journal of Medicine and the Collateral Sciences[6], volume 13, London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, & Longman, page 813:
      On Blood-Baths: An Historical Notice. By Dr. Hecker. According to a dark tradition which is incidentally mentioned by Pliny, the ancient kings of Egypt used to bathe in human blood when they were seized with leprosy.