See more synonyms for blow on
  1. a sudden, hard stroke with a hand, fist, or weapon: a blow to the head.
  2. a sudden shock, calamity, reversal, etc.: His wife's death was a terrible blow to him.
  3. a sudden attack or drastic action: The invaders struck a blow to the south.
  1. at one blow, with a single act: He became wealthy and famous at one blow.Also at a blow.
  2. come to blows, to begin to fight, especially to engage in physical combat: They came to blows over the referee's ruling.
  3. strike a blow, to hit.
  4. strike a blow for, to further or advance the cause of: to strike a blow for civil rights.
  5. without striking a blow, without a battle or contest: The military coup was accomplished without striking a blow.

Origin of blow

1425–75; late Middle English blaw, northern form representing later blowe; akin to Old High German bliuwan, Gothic bliggwan to beat

Synonyms for blow

See more synonyms for on

Synonym study

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for come to blows


verb blows, blowing, blew or blown
  1. (of a current of air, the wind, etc) to be or cause to be in motion
  2. (intr) to move or be carried by or as if by wind or aira feather blew in through the window
  3. to expel (air, cigarette smoke, etc) through the mouth or nose
  4. to force or cause (air, dust, etc) to move (into, in, over, etc) by using an instrument or by expelling breath
  5. (intr) to breathe hard; pant
  6. (sometimes foll by up) to inflate with air or the breath
  7. (intr) (of wind, a storm, etc) to make a roaring or whistling sound
  8. to cause (a whistle, siren, etc) to sound by forcing air into it, as a signal, or (of a whistle, etc) to sound thus
  9. (tr) to force air from the lungs through (the nose) to clear out mucus or obstructing matter
  10. (often foll by up, down, in, etc) to explode, break, or disintegrate completelythe bridge blew down in the gale
  11. electronics to burn out (a fuse, valve, etc) because of excessive current or (of a fuse, valve, etc) to burn out
  12. blow a fuse slang to lose one's temper
  13. (intr) (of a whale) to spout water or air from the lungs
  14. (tr) to wind (a horse) by making it run excessively
  15. 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
  16. (intr) jazz slang to play in a jam session
  17. (intr) (of flies) to lay eggs (in)
  18. to shape (glass, ornaments, etc) by forcing air or gas through the material when molten
  19. (intr) mainly Scot, Australian and NZ to boast or brag
  20. (tr) slang
    1. to spend (money) freely
    2. USto treat or entertain
  21. (tr) slang to use (an opportunity) ineffectively
  22. slang to go suddenly away (from)
  23. (tr) slang to expose or betray (a person or thing meant to be kept secret)
  24. (tr) US slang to inhale (a drug)
  25. (intr) slang to masturbate
  26. past participle blowed informal another word for damn I'll be blowed; blow it!
  27. draughts another word for huff (def. 4)
  28. blow hot and cold to vacillate
  29. blow a kiss or blow kisses to kiss one's hand, then blow across it as if to carry the kiss through the air to another person
  30. blow one's own trumpet to boast of one's own skills or good qualities
  31. blow someone's mind slang
    1. (of a drug, esp LSD) to alter someone's mental state
    2. esp US and Canadianto astound or surprise someone
  32. blow one's top, esp US and Canadian blow one's stack or blow one's lid informal to lose one's temper
  1. the act or an instance of blowing
  2. the sound produced by blowing
  3. a blast of air or wind
  4. metallurgy
    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
  5. mining
    1. a rush of air into a mine
    2. the collapse of a mine roof
  6. jazz slang a jam session
    1. British a slang name for cannabis (def. 2)
    2. US a slang name for cocaine

Word Origin for blow

Old English blāwan, related to Old Norse blǣr gust of wind, Old High German blāen, Latin flāre


  1. a powerful or heavy stroke with the fist, a weapon, etc
  2. at one blow or at a blow by or with only one action; all at one time
  3. a sudden setback; unfortunate eventto come as a blow
  4. come to blows
    1. to fight
    2. to result in a fight
  5. an attacking actiona blow for freedom
  6. Australian and NZ a stroke of the shears in sheep-shearing

Word Origin for blow

C15: probably of Germanic origin; compare Old High German bliuwan to beat


verb blows, blowing, blew or blown
  1. (intr) (of a plant or flower) to blossom or open out
  2. (tr) to produce (flowers)
  1. a mass of blossoms
  2. the state or period of blossoming (esp in the phrase in full blow)

Word Origin for blow

Old English blōwan; related to Old Frisian blōia to bloom, Old High German bluoen, Latin flōs flower; see bloom 1
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

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

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]


In addition to the idioms beginning with blow

  • blow a fuse
  • blow away
  • blow by blow
  • blow hot and cold
  • blow in
  • blow it
  • blow off
  • blow off steam
  • blow one's brains out
  • blow one's cool
  • blow one's cover
  • blow one's mind
  • blow one's own horn
  • blow one's top
  • blow out
  • blow over
  • blow sky-high
  • blow someone to
  • blow the lid off
  • blow the whistle on
  • blow up

also see:

  • at one stroke (blow)
  • body blow
  • come to blows
  • keep (blow) one's cool
  • low blow
  • way the wind blows
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.