The word 'bloody' is a colloquialism - slang. It is also a mild swear word, certainly no where near as strong as the F word. It is used to highlight someone or something in a negative light, for example: if your car had broken down, you would say: 'that bloody car' or a person equally: 'that bloody jemma, she's....'. You could also say it generally and is frequently used as 'bloody hell', really meaning, 'oh heck' or 'oh no'. Where 'bloody hell' came from I dont know, we can only assume.
Orally you can really emphasise the 'bloody', but because its not as strong as some other swear words, it wont ever have the same connotation. We have replacement words for 'bloody', 'blumming' being one of them, its softer than bloody but not as widely used by the whole populace as 'bloody', so I guess it must be a fairly recent addition.
Bloody is also known as 'The Australian Adjective' as it's frequently used here. It is actually a shortened form of 'By Our Lady'. It was recently used on an Australian Tourism (failed) campaign - 'Where the Bloody Hell are You?'
NeverLift and TieGuy are correct: it's a contraction of the words By Our Lady, referring to The Virgin. It originated in ancient Brit times in reference to fear or awe or anger, and over time it lost its religious leanings and morphed into a so-called swear word. When I was young it wasn't a smiled-upon word to speak in conversation, but gradually it sneaked into our everyday language and is generally used to emphasize a thought or feeling. I personally still find it more effective by far than the F word.
1 year ago
Last edited at 2:11PM on 6/21/2012
30 years ago I had a Linguistics teacher from New Zealand. She said there was never a fuss over common swear words, but the word "bloody" would get you knocked across the room because it referred to the blood of Jesus Christ.
Scarlet Granny hit it right on the head. In ancient Britain it was an expression of awe "By Our Lady" and because of the different pronouncements it evolved into "Bloody". As different people heard it they applied different meanings to it. One thing they all agree is that it is used in exasperation and awe and when used in a negative sense it replaces the F word thank God. I would much rather people use Bloody instead of the other. Today's culture has lost respect for the language and uses curse words freely.