Proverb: Blood and Water

Text: “Blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.”

Context: G is a 20 years old Animation and Digital Arts major from Birmingham, UK. He is a junior at USC and has been living in the area for 3 years.

G said he initially heard the more popular version of this saying – “Blood is thicker than water” – at some point when he was younger. He says that he believes it was one of his teachers that later told him the actual proverb, the one listed above in text.

Interpretation: What’s interesting is that G chose to tell me the longer version of this proverb, but acknowledged the shorter version. This more popular version is used as an argument for familial bonds being stronger than others, while the version in text argues that relationships we form are stronger. While this may or may not be actually true, G believes the version he told me is the original, and that people are misquoting it in the shorter, ‘newer’ version. The key words “covenant” and “womb” are left out. This proverb which I’ve quoted from G is pretty straightforward, although metaphorical, saying that the bonds we choose to form and strengthen (covenant meaning agreement or trust) are stronger than those we cannot chose (those created solely by the womb). It’s definitely a type of advice, seemingly coming from someone experienced in life. What’s more, familial bonds being questioned is taboo in a number of cultures and societies, which seems to be why there are two different versions of this proverb circulating. It also speaks to the fact that my informant, who is a student at a college on an entirely different continent from his hometown (and his family), knows and references the version of the proverb that values formed relationships over inherited ones.