Bless (false friend)

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If you are reading French texts, or inded studying the French language, beware the false friend in the French verb blesser (and its -ed participle blessé, feminine blessée). Blesser is NOT the English verb 'to bless', but the French equivalent of 'to wound', 'to inflict a serious injury [on a person]' (see also Wound (homographs). The related noun is [la] blessure, 'the wound'. A rare English noun 'blesser', pronounced 'BLESS-er' (IPA: /ˈblɛs ər/, means 'someone who blesses'.

    • Blesser is derived from the Frankish and common Germanic *blaitijaną, meaning 'to bruise'.
    • There was, until the seventeenth century, an English verb 'to bless' meaning "[t]o wound, hurt; to beat, thrash, drub" (OED, 2020). The last recorded use in this sense was in 1612. It replaced a Middle English verb bleche, '[t]o wound, hurt, injure', recorded in the fourteenth century.
  • The current English verb 'to bless' has a wide range of meanings, with a central idea of invoking, or calling down or asking for God's favour or approval for something or someone. (See further bless (meanings).)
    • Bless is a native English word, coming from Old English blēdsian (or blédsian or blétsian, meaning 'to consecrate', from Germanic *blōþisōną, cognate with and derived from the same root as 'blood' (the semantic link is that consecration back in those days was done with blood). The etymological meaning was thus ‘to mark (or affect in some way) with blood (or sacrifice); to consecrate’.
      • Users of AWE who have an interest in etymology may care to look up the etymology of bless, v.1 in OED (, which adds the note that "The past tense and participle are now generally spelt blessed, though always pronounced /blɛst/ in modern prose; the participle may be pronounced pronounced /ˈblɛsɪd/ in verse, or liturgical reading. As an adjective blessed /ˈblɛsɪd/ is now the regular prose form, but the archaic blest is frequent in verse, and traditional phrases as e.g. ‘the Isles of the Blest.’"