Blood and Thunder

Meaning of “Blood and Thunder”

The phrase “blood and thunder” alludes to an oath taken to declare fight or attack. Therefore, it refers to chaos and bloodshed. The phrase is mostly used to provoke people into taking violent actions during wars or similar situations.

Origin of “Blood and Thunder”

The phrase “blood and thunder” has originated from an oath used to be taken religiously during the medieval period before going to a battle. The phrase has first appeared in printed format in the poem, Don Juan, by Lord Byron, “Oh blood and thunder! and oh blood and wounds! These are but vulgar oaths.” Since then, the phrase has become popular in the same words and spellings.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Blood and Thunder by Alex Skovron

I have threaded the ocean through my veins
And the sky sings like music in turbulent dreams
Of journeys I can never name again, for I am old –
For I am old and indifferent now
To twilit journeyings I shall never name
That have no name, like me.

And yet, when you hear the waves crack
Their rugged histories against the gulls’ terror,
When you recoil from the swirling clouds’ dull thunder
And are fearful, how wrong you will be.

The poem presents the dilemma of a soldier who has sworn an allegiance to fight a war. He has to travel to the unknown worlds through the oceans and under the starry skies. However, when the thunder strikes, it dawns upon the traveler that he has been treading a wrong path, although it is too late now, for it is the oath of “blood and thunder” that he has taken.

Example #2

Blood & Thunder by Mastodon

I think that someone is trying to kill me
Infecting my blood and destroying my mind
No man of the flesh could ever stop me
The fight for this fish is a fight to the death

White whale, holy grail
White whale, holy grail

What remorseless emperor commands me
I no longer govern my soul
I am completely immersed in darkness
As I turn my body away from the sun

White whale, holy grail
White whale, holy grail

Split your lungs with blood and thunder
When you see the white whale
Break your backs and crack your oars men
If you wish to prevail

This ivory leg is what propels me
Harpoons thrust in the sky
Aim directly for his crooked brow
And look him straight in the eye

White whale, holy grail
White whale, holy grail

Mastodon is roughly based on one of the classic books, Moby Dick, from the whale and Ahab’s perspective. Ahab’s first encounter with the whale. The whale, also realizes that it is being hunted. It also describes Ahab’s paranoid state of mind, and his encounter with the whale, Moby Dick.

Example #3

Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West by Hampton Sides

Hampton Sides has beautifully told the story of Navajo, a warrior or of the Mexican tribe of Narbona, who fought against the settlers for twenty years but later saw the American settlers flooding his lands. This elusive tribal chief fought the invaders too, but this deluge of the western quest flooded everything that came in the way. However, the interesting thing about this legend is that he is both seen as a hero as well as a villain, living on both sides of history. Along with him run the tale of the American, Kit Carson, who adopted the Indian lifestyle living with the people but became controversial on both sides. The title of the book gives voice to the allegiance of both the persons and shifting tides of luck.

Example #4

Blood and Thunder: The Boys of Eton College and the First World War by Alexandra Churchill

This historical record presents the story of three friends, who became soldiers. They studied together at Eton College and fought under the Union Jack together. Even the friends died and were buried at the same place during the war. Over 1,200 young soldiers made history by sacrificing their teenage years in the First World War. The title alludes to the oath that they took to protect the Union Jack and made the country proud of them.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “Before entering the football field, the GO team yelled ‘blood and thunder’ to motivate each other. They did win the match later.”

Example #2: “The dictators love to use blood and thunder in their speech because they don’t care about peace.”

Example #3: “Brian warned Liam not to go all blood and thunder on their business rivals.

Example #4: “The World Wars were all about blood and thunder from both allies and foes. The leaders lived, and the soldiers had to die for them.”

Example #5: “Instead of wars and violence-filled with blood and thunder, everyone must just play thumb wrestling to win any arguments.”