[ bleym ]
/ bleɪm /
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See synonyms for: blame / blamed / blaming / blamer on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), blamed, blam·ing.
to hold responsible; find fault with; censure: I don't blame you for leaving him.
to place the responsibility for (a fault, error, etc.) (usually followed by on): I blame the accident on her.
Informal. blast; damn (used as a mild curse): Blame the rotten luck.
an act of attributing fault; censure; reproof: The judge said he found nothing to justify blame in the accident.
responsibility for anything deserving of censure: We must all share the blame for this deplorable condition.


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Idioms about blame

    to blame, at fault; censurable: I am to blame for his lateness.

Origin of blame

1150–1200; (v.) Middle English blamen<Anglo-French, Old French blasmer<Vulgar Latin *blastēmāre, for Late Latin blasphēmāre to blaspheme; (noun) Middle English <Anglo-French, Old French bla(s)me, derivative of the v.

synonym study for blame

1, 2. Blame, censure, condemn imply finding fault with someone or something. To blame is to hold accountable for, and disapprove because of, some error, mistake, omission, neglect, or the like: Whom do you blame for the disaster? The verb censure differs from the noun in connoting scolding or rebuking even more than adverse criticism: to censure one for extravagance. To condemn is to express an adverse (especially legal) judgment, without recourse: to condemn conduct, a building, a person to death.

usage note for blame

Some speakers avoid blame on as informal ( He blamed the fight on me ), preferring blame alone ( He blamed me ) or blame for ( He blamed me for it ). Since all three forms occur with equal frequency in educated usage, they may all be considered equally acceptable.


blamer, nouno·ver·blame, verb (used with object), o·ver·blamed, o·ver·blam·ing.self-blame, nounun·blam·ing, adjective


blame , censure, condemn (see synonym study at the current entry)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does blame mean?

To blame someone for something is to hold them responsible for something negative that happened. In other words, to blame them is to say or believe that they did it or that it happened because of them.

A person can be blamed for a crime—meaning that they are being accused of having committed it. Blame can be used in much less serious contexts—you can blame someone for eating the last cookie, for example.

In general, we blame things on people and we blame people for things. For example, in the event of a car accident, we could say that one driver is blaming the other for the accident, or that one driver is blaming the accident on the other driver.

When someone is blamed for something, it doesn’t mean they are guilty of it—it simply means they are being accused of being guilty of it.

The word blame can also be used as a noun referring to the responsibility for something negative that happened. This is how the word is used in the phrase assign blame. As a noun, blame can also mean the disapproval, condemnation, or criticism for something bad that happened, as in He deserves most of the blame for the loss.

It’s usually people who are blamed when bad things happen, but sometimes it’s a thing, as in The power company blamed the outage on the storm.

The word blame is always used in the context of something bad that happened—you don’t blame someone for something good. (However, the word can be used in an ironic way, as in Everyone thinks I became famous all by myself, but I blame all of the people who supported me.)

To blame yourself is to believe that you were responsible for something bad that happened. The phrase to blame can mean responsible or at fault, as in It’s hard to tell who’s to blame in this situation.

Example: My brother blamed the dog for knocking over the lamp, but my parents knew who was to blame.

Where does blame come from?

The first records of the word blame come from the 1100s. It comes from the Late Latin blasphēmāre, meaning “to blaspheme” (“to speak in a disrespectful way about God or other things considered sacred”).

Blame appears in many different words and expressions. Someone who deserves blame can be described as blameworthy (or, less commonly, blameful). Someone who is blameless is someone who hasn’t done anything wrong—they haven’t done anything to be blamed for.

The informal term blame game refers to a situation in which people try to blame each other for something bad happening, as in Let’s not play the blame game and try to make someone the scapegoat for all of this. The slang verb blamestorm is modeled on the verb brainstorm and means to engage in a process of deciding whom to assign blame to.

Did you know … ?

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How is blame used in real life?

Due to its meaning, blame is almost always used in negative contexts. It can be used in serious situations, such as those involving a crime, or in less serious ones.

Try using blame!

Is blame used correctly in the following sentence?

“Extremely foggy weather was to blame for the car accident.”

How to use blame in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for blame

/ (bleɪm) /

responsibility for something that is wrong or deserving censure; culpability
an expression of condemnation; reproof
be to blame to be at fault or culpable
verb (tr)
(usually foll by for) to attribute responsibility to; accuseI blame him for the failure
(usually foll by on) to ascribe responsibility for (something) toI blame the failure on him
to find fault with

Derived forms of blame

blamable or blameable, adjectiveblamably or blameably, adverb

Word Origin for blame

C12: from Old French blasmer, ultimately from Late Latin blasphēmāre to blaspheme
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

Other Idioms and Phrases with blame


see lay (the blame) on; to blame.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.