In time, these lessons and "stubs" will be migrated to the Buzzwords site.
Until then, consider them historical.

Blood Is Thicker than Water


1. Can you guess the meaning of this saying?
2. Is there anything more important to you than family? Why?


James sees his friend, a man named Donald, moping around at a party

James: Hey, Don. Why the long face?
Donald: Oh, my girlfriend's making me crazy.
James: As they do. What is it this time?
Donald: Well, she was supposed to come with me to the party tonight, but her aunt is in town, and her mother wanted her to go to dinner with them. So it's, "Adios Donnie" and "Hello Auntie."
James: Why not? I mean, blood is thicker than water.
Donald: But we plan to get married next year.
James: Then I guess you'd better get used to this!
Donald: Isn't there anything I can do?
James: Have you told her how you feel?
Donald: Sure.
James: Calmly and lovingly?
Donald: Oh...uh, well, not exactly...
James: That's what I thought. Wait for the calm between the storms, and talk it out with her.
Donald: OK, I'll try it.


Long before there was any understanding of DNA and other elements of the science of genetics, people felt that what joined family members together was blood. We still speak of "blood relatives" or people related "by blood," as opposed to "in-laws" or people related by law.

This gives a clue to the meaning of the expression, "Blood is thicker than water." The expression means that family is more important than anything.

That's not always a good thing, though, as it can lock some people out, especially in-laws.

More notes:
  • moping around: This describes someone who's sighing, rolling his eyes, hanging his head, etc. It's the kind of behavior that begs someone to ask why you're sad.
  • Why the long face?: When people are sad, it seems that their face becomes longer (try it). So this question means, "Why are you sad?"
  • As they do: An expression of agreement. When someone says that someone has done something, using an expression like this (with the appropriate pronoun) is like saying, "Yes, they always do that" or "That's what they usually do."
  • "Adios Donnie" and "Hello Auntie": "Adios" is Spanish for "goodbye." So this means that Donald's girlfriend has told him goodbye (for the night) and told her aunt hello.
  • the calm between the storms: James plays on a common expression here, about "the calm before the storm." "The storms" in his expression would be Donald's fights with his girlfriend; James suggests that Donald discuss this sometime when they're not fighting.
  • talk it out: discuss it until the problem is solved.


Use the above terms in one of the following sentences. Be sure to use the correct form.

1. Don't __________! Go out and have some fun!
2. What happened, Susannah? __________?
3. If Ken can't do the work expected of him, it will be __________ and "Hello, replacement."
4. The day before school starts, the campus is so quiet. It's like __________.
5. A: A policeman gave me a speeding ticket. B: __________.
6. If my boyfriend and I can't agree on something, we usually __________.


If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers.

1. When a woman gets married, is her main responsibility to her parents, or her spouse? Why do you think so? What about when a man gets married?
2. When a relative visits from out of town, do you cancel your regular activities (dinner with friends, etc.) to spend more time with him or her?
3. How do you settle disputes with a loved one?


1. mope around; 2. Why the long face; 3. "Adios, Ken"; 4. the calm before the storm; 5. As they do; 6. talk it out

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

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