Blind Man’s Buff

Meaning of “Blind Man’s Buff”

The phrase “blind man’s buff” means to play a game in which a player is blindfolded, and then he is asked to catch any one of the players in the group. The person found plays the same role again, which is similar to the game ‘tag’.

Origin of “Blind Man’s Buff”

The phrase “blind man’s buff” is a popular phrase, yet its printed record first appeared in, Three Ladies of London, a play by Robert Wilson published as back as in 1590 where it goes, “Love, Lucre, Conscience, blindman buffe to you all.” Since then it has become “blind man’s buff” after the standardization of spellings. Over time, due to the corruption of the language, the phrase is often misquoted as ‘blind man’s bluff’.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Blind Man’s Buff by William Blake

When silver snow decks Susan’s clothes,
And jewel hangs at th’ shepherd’s nose,
The blushing bank is all my care,
With hearth so red, and walls so fair;
`Heap the sea-coal, come, heap it higher,
The oaken log lay on the fire.’
The well-wash’d stools, a circling row,
With lad and lass, how fair the show!
The merry can of nut-brown ale,
The laughing jest, the love-sick tale,
Till, tir’d of chat, the game begins.
The lasses prick the lads with pins;
Roger from Dolly twitch’d the stool,
She, falling, kiss’d the ground, poor fool!
She blush’d so red, with sidelong glance
At hob-nail Dick, who griev’d the chance.
But now for Blind man’s buff they call;
Of each encumbrance clear the hall–
Jenny her silken ‘kerchief folds,
And blear-eyed Will the black lot holds.
Now laughing stops, with `Silence! hush!’
And Peggy Pout gives Sam a push.

These are the first few lines of the poem gives a rough idea of the game that the village people used to play during his times. This game comprises all the young boys and girls, including women and men of the village. There was a great hustle and bustle and merriment at that time. The poet has used this phrase as the title of the poem and within the poem.

Example #2

Blind Man’s Buff by Tommy Cox

Way back in the cold war when the going got tough,
we played a little game and called it Blind Man’s Bluff.
The US and the Russians kept the action unseen!
We played this game of chicken with our submarines.
We sneak up on each other, steal the secret stuff,
Muddied up the waters called it Blind Man’s Bluff.
We’re Young and patriotic, and devil may care,
the good guys and the bad guys made a deadly pair.
We shadowed each other with antenna’s for ears!
We were just a high tech, buccaneer.
We could get the booty from the soviet bear.
And bring it all together with a wing and a prayer
Blind Man’s Bluff is not a childish game!
Blind Man’s Bluff can bring you fame or shame!
A little bluff here or a little bluff there.
Blind Man’s Bluff can be a sailor’s prayer!

The song is about the cold war mentality and the hide and seeks game that the countries played with each other. The singer has beautifully highlighted the game of the United States and Russia, using the phrase. He named different weapons and other war machinery as how this game went on for decades. The phrase has been used several times within the song. However, its meanings are sometimes very ironic such as in the last line that sometimes “Blind Man’s Buff” is the prayer of the sailors.

Example #3

Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage by Sherry Sontag, Christopher Drew, Annette Lawrence Drew

This is the story of American submarines that have been sent to the Soviet Union on espionage missions with self-destructive capabilities lest they may be discovered. The story comprises hide and seek games, courage, and ingenuity of the engineers. Hence, the book has been titled with this phrase to show that it is the same old game though played on a massive scale on the state level. The meanings are almost the same though very destructive in nature.

Example #4

Encyclopedia of Play in Today’s Society, Volume 1, By Rodney P. Carlisle

“Blind Man’s Bluff, as the game is known in the United States, has been played by both children and adults under a variety of names and in a variety of ways for at least 2,000 years. In its most familiar form, the game consists of a blindfolded player who attempts to catch one of the other players who are silently running around, touching and teasing blindfolded person. Once the “blindman” catches someone, he must identify that person, usually by touching the face and body to see if he can recognize the individual, and, if he can correctly do so, then that person becomes the next blind man.”

This paragraph taken from the encyclopedia gives an excellent description of the game used to be played thousands of years earlier. The detail of the game is almost the same that a person is blindfolded to catch others, and then the person who is caught continues the game by becoming ‘It’. However, it has turned into the hide and seek on the state level or has transformed into various other state games. The phrase has the addition of /l/ sound as an error, and meanings are almost the same.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “Indian villages play blind man’s buff even to this day. The kids don’t have smartphones in their homes.”

Example #2: “Somedays, Janice wished she could play blind man’s buff instead of attending the parties on the weekends.”

Example #3: “Instead of giving PS3 and video games, ask your child to play blind man’s buff once the lockdown is over.”

Example #4: “Irene felt confused while looking for the right address. She felt she was playing blind man’s buff because everyone gave her different information.”

Example #5: “Can you stop asking people to chase the new technology one after the other. It’s like playing blind man’s buff.”