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[bloh] /bloʊ/
a sudden, hard stroke with a hand, fist, or weapon:
a blow to the head.
a sudden shock, calamity, reversal, etc.:
His wife's death was a terrible blow to him.
a sudden attack or drastic action:
The invaders struck a blow to the south.
at one blow, with a single act:
He became wealthy and famous at one blow.
Also, at a blow.
come to blows, to begin to fight, especially to engage in physical combat:
They came to blows over the referee's ruling.
strike a blow, to hit.
strike a blow for, to further or advance the cause of:
to strike a blow for civil rights.
without striking a blow, without a battle or contest:
The military coup was accomplished without striking a blow.
Origin of blow1
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English blaw, northern form representing later blowe; akin to Old High German bliuwan, Gothic bliggwan to beat
1. buffet, thump, thwack, rap, slap, cuff, box, beat, knock. 1, 2. Blow, stroke, hit, slap refer to a sudden or forceful impact, but differ in their literal and figurative uses. Blow emphasizes the violence of the impact and, figuratively, adverse fortune: a blow from a hammer; a blow to one's hopes. Stroke emphasizes movement as well as impact; it indicates precision or, figuratively, either good fortune or sudden or unexpected pain or misfortune: the stroke of a piston; a stroke of luck, of lightning; a paralytic stroke. Hit, in its current uses, emphasizes the successful result of a literal or figurative blow, impact, or impression, for example in baseball, social life, the theater: a two-base hit; to make a hit with someone; a smash hit. Slap, a blow with the open hand or with something flat, emphasizes the instrument with which the blow is delivered and, often, the resulting sound; figuratively, it connotes an unfriendly or sarcastic statement, action, or attitude: Her coldness was like a slap in the face; the slap of a beaver's tail on the water. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for come to blows


verb blows, blowing, blew, blown
(of a current of air, the wind, etc) to be or cause to be in motion
(intransitive) to move or be carried by or as if by wind or air: a feather blew in through the window
to expel (air, cigarette smoke, etc) through the mouth or nose
to force or cause (air, dust, etc) to move (into, in, over, etc) by using an instrument or by expelling breath
(intransitive) to breathe hard; pant
(sometimes foll by up) to inflate with air or the breath
(intransitive) (of wind, a storm, etc) to make a roaring or whistling sound
to cause (a whistle, siren, etc) to sound by forcing air into it, as a signal, or (of a whistle, etc) to sound thus
(transitive) to force air from the lungs through (the nose) to clear out mucus or obstructing matter
often foll by up, down, in, etc. to explode, break, or disintegrate completely: the bridge blew down in the gale
(electronics) to burn out (a fuse, valve, etc) because of excessive current or (of a fuse, valve, etc) to burn out
(slang) blow a fuse, to lose one's temper
(intransitive) (of a whale) to spout water or air from the lungs
(transitive) to wind (a horse) by making it run excessively
to cause (a wind instrument) to sound by forcing one's breath into the mouthpiece, or (of such an instrument) to sound in this way
(intransitive) (jazz, slang) to play in a jam session
(intransitive) (of flies) to lay eggs (in)
to shape (glass, ornaments, etc) by forcing air or gas through the material when molten
(intransitive) (mainly Scot & Austral, NZ) to boast or brag
(transitive) (slang)
  1. to spend (money) freely
  2. (US) to treat or entertain
(transitive) (slang) to use (an opportunity) ineffectively
(slang) to go suddenly away (from)
(transitive) (slang) to expose or betray (a person or thing meant to be kept secret)
(transitive) (US, slang) to inhale (a drug)
(intransitive) (slang) to masturbate
(informal) (past part) blowed another word for damn I'll be blowed, blow it!
(draughts) another word for huff (sense 4)
blow hot and cold, to vacillate
blow a kiss, blow kisses, to kiss one's hand, then blow across it as if to carry the kiss through the air to another person
blow one's own trumpet, to boast of one's own skills or good qualities
(slang) blow someone's mind
  1. (of a drug, esp LSD) to alter someone's mental state
  2. especially (US & Canadian) to astound or surprise someone
(informal) blow one's top, especially (US & Canadian) blow one's stack, blow one's lid, to lose one's temper
the act or an instance of blowing
the sound produced by blowing
a blast of air or wind
  1. a stage in the Bessemer process in which air is blasted upwards through molten pig iron
  2. the quantity of metal treated in a Bessemer converter
  1. a rush of air into a mine
  2. the collapse of a mine roof
(jazz, slang) a jam session
  1. (Brit) a slang name for cannabis (sense 2)
  2. (US) a slang name for cocaine
Word Origin
Old English blāwan, related to Old Norse blǣr gust of wind, Old High German blāen, Latin flāre


a powerful or heavy stroke with the fist, a weapon, etc
at one blow, at a blow, by or with only one action; all at one time
a sudden setback; unfortunate event: to come as a blow
come to blows
  1. to fight
  2. to result in a fight
an attacking action: a blow for freedom
(Austral & NZ) a stroke of the shears in sheep-shearing
Word Origin
C15: probably of Germanic origin; compare Old High German bliuwan to beat


verb blows, blowing, blew, blown
(intransitive) (of a plant or flower) to blossom or open out
(transitive) to produce (flowers)
a mass of blossoms
the state or period of blossoming (esp in the phrase in full blow)
Word Origin
Old English blōwan; related to Old Frisian blōia to bloom, Old High German bluoen, Latin flōs flower; see bloom1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for come to blows



"move air," Old English blawan "blow, breathe, make an air current; kindle; inflate; sound a wind instrument" (class VII strong verb; past tense bleow, past participle blawen), from Proto-Germanic *blæ-anan (cf. Old High German blaen, German blähen), from PIE *bhle- "to swell, blow up" (cf. Latin flare "to blow"), possibly identical with *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell" (see bole).

Meaning "to squander" (of money) is from 1874. Sense of "depart suddenly" is from 1902. Slang "do fellatio on" sense is from 1933, as blow (someone) off, originally among prostitutes (cf. blow job). This usage probably is not connected to the colloquial imprecation (1781, associated with sailors, e.g. Popeye's "well, blow me down!"), which has past participle blowed. Meaning "to spend (money) foolishly and all at once" is 1890s; that of "bungle an opportunity" is from 1943. To blow over "pass" is from 1610s, originally of storms. To blow (someone's) mind was in use by 1967; there is a song title "Blow Your Mind" released in a 1965 Mirawood recording by a group called The Gas Company.

"to bloom, blossom" (intransitive), from Old English blowan "to flower, blossom, flourish," from Proto-Germanic *blæ- (cf. Old Saxon bloian, Old Frisian bloia, Middle Dutch and Dutch bloeien, Old High German bluoen, German blühen), from PIE *bhle-, extended form of *bhel- (2) "to blow, inflate, swell" (see bole). This word is the source of the blown in full-blown.


"hard hit," mid-15c., blowe, from northern and East Midlands dialects, perhaps from Middle Dutch blouwen "to beat," a common Germanic word of unknown origin (cf. German bleuen, Gothic bliggwan "to strike"). Influenced in English by blow (v.1). In reference to descriptions or accounts, blow-by-blow is recorded from 1921, American English, originally of prize-fight broadcasts.

LIKE a hungry kitten loves its saucer of warm milk, so do radio fans joyfully listen to the blow-by-blow broadcast description of a boxing bout. ["The Wireless Age," December 1922]

"a blowing, a blast," 1650s, from blow (v.1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for come to blows



  1. To do or perform something, esp to do it well: He blows great conversation (1950s+ Beat & cool talk)
  2. Cocaine: ok, he gets busted for blow eight times/ Hell, half the people doing blow are reacting to the cut (1960s+ Narcotics)


  1. To play a musical instrument, esp in jazz style and not necessarily a wind instrument: There will be three kids blowing guitar, banjo, and washboard/ This music is the culmination of all my writing and blowing (1900s+ Jazz musicians)
  2. To do fellatio or cunnilingus; suck off (1930s+)
  3. To be disgusting, nasty, worthless, etc; bite, suck: This blows and you do too (1970s+)
  4. To treat someone to something; buy something expensive or unusual for someone: I blew myself to a new pair of shoes (1870s+)
  5. (also blow something in) To spend money, esp foolishly and all at once: The state blew my money buying votes for Roosevelt/ And blow it in on smokes (1890s+)
  6. To take a narcotic, esp but not necessarily by inhalation: Jimi blew every kind of dope invented/ I don't know how you can blow dust and eat (1920+)
  7. To smoke marijuana; blow smoke: He enjoys sex; he does not blow grass (1960s+ Narcotics)
  8. To leave; depart; split: I'm blowing, I got a job in Detroit (1902+)
  9. To lose or ruin something by mistake, inattention, incompetence, etc; blow it: I blew the best chance I ever had (1920+)
  10. To forget or botch one's part in a show (1920s+ Theater)
  11. blow off
  12. To inform against someone; sing (1840s+)
  13. To expose or publicize something secret, esp something scandalous: Treat me right or I'll blow it about the love nest (late 1500s+)
  14. To lose one's temper; BLOW one's TOP (1900s+)
  15. (also blow off) To brag; TOOT one's OWN HORN (1400+)
  16. To sing, esp to sing well (1980s+ College students)

Related Terms

blow someone away, blow one's cool, blow someone's or something's cover, blow someone's mind, blow off one's mouth, blow the gaff, blow the lid off, blow the whistle, blow up, blow up a storm, blow something wide open, let off steam, low blow, one-two


Related Terms

joe blow

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with come to blows

come to blows

Begin to fight. For example, It hardly seems worth coming to blows over a dollar! Thomas Hobbes had it in Leviathan (1651): “Their controversie must either come to blowes, or be undecided.” This term is also put as fall to blows, especially in Britain. [ Late 1500s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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