From Middle English blodhound, blodhond; equivalent to blood + hound. Cognate with Dutch bloedhond (“bloodhound”), Middle Low German blōthunt (“bloodhound”), German Bluthund (“bloodhound”), Danish blodhund (“bloodhound”), Swedish blodhund (“bloodhound”). The detective sense follows from the dog's ability to follow a trail.
bloodhound (plural bloodhounds)
- A large scenthound famed for its ability to follow a scent many days old, over vast distances. This dog is often used as a police dog to track missing people, fleeing suspects, or escaped prisoners.
- (figuratively) A detective or other person skilled at finding people or clues.
- (archaic) A bloodthirsty person.
- 1817 December, Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Revolt of Islam. […]”, in [Mary] Shelley, editor, The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley. […], volume I, London: Edward Moxon […], published 1839, OCLC 1000449192, page 263:
- For now the despot’s blood-hounds with their prey,
Unarmed and unaware, were gorging deep
Their gluttony of death; the loose array
Of horsemen o’er the wide fields murdering sweep,
And with loud laughter for their tyrant reap
A harvest sown with other hopes; […]
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