Blood is Thicker Than Water

Americans will celebrate Father’s Day this Sunday, June 21st, so it’s a good time to talk about expressions in English related to family and relatives (people related to you by blood).

One well-known saying is “Blood is thicker than water.”

This saying means that being related by blood (the red liquid that goes through people’s bodies) to someone is more important than being just a friend or acquaintance (someone you know), especially in a difficult situation.

To be thicker literally (actually) means more dense or heavy, but here it means “more important.”

For example, a woman wants to leave her successful company to her children after she dies, but believes that none of her children are good in business.

She might say, “I know that my son James isn’t the best choice to be the next company president, but blood is thicker than water. I would rather leave the business to a family member than to a stranger.”

When we have to choose between friends and family, we usually choose family. That’s because blood is thicker than water.

Another well-known expression related to family is “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

An apple is a kind of fruit that grows on a tree (see photo). When apples fall off the tree, they usually stay close to it.

“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” means that  children (or grandchildren) often have the same characteristics (likes, dislikes, talents, etc.) as their parents. A child’s traits (personality, actions, interests) stay “close” to his parents, like an apple to its tree.

The expression can be used for good or positive characteristics.

For example: When Damon was in college, he was a great runner. Now, his daughter is only 12-years-old, but she has won every race she has ever competed in (entered).

You might say in observing this fact that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Damon’s daughter is similar to Damon, because both are good runners.

But the expression can also be used for bad or negative characteristics.

For instance: “I heard that Julio was in jail. I’m not surprised. Both of his parents had problems with the law when they were teenagers. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!”

A saying that has a similar meaning is “Like father, like son.”

If you find out that both the father and the son are good at fixing cars, you might say “Like father, like son.”

Although it isn’t as common, you can also use the saying, “Like mother, like daughter” when the two share some common characteristic.

Ask yourself: Are your interests, occupation, likes or dislikes similar to your parents?

For me, the answer is yes.

My father was a teacher; I’m a teacher.

My father liked to talk a lot and tell stories. I am the same way (ask my wife).

Of course, we’re not alike in all things. My father loved lots of sports, whereas (however; but) I only really love one: the world’s greatest sport, baseball.

Sadly, due to the coronavirus, I can’t watch any baseball on TV yet!


P.S. This post is adapted from our Cultural English lesson 68.

For more family-related vocabulary, check out these Daily English lessons:

519 – Describing Family Relations

1101 – Problems Getting Along With Family

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Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay
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