What I want to say is that there is a small puddle of blood but find myself using the term too often and want to try something different.

A quick search of the term on books.google does return a few results using that exact phrase but I want to be sure that the term is correct in use.

  • The usual online references are sadly lacking in synonyms for "puddle" -- the definitions/synonyms tend toward pool or pond rather than what any 4-year-old would call a puddle. – Hot Licks Mar 29 '18 at 20:54
  • a pile of blood and guts, body parts ... – lbf Mar 29 '18 at 21:38
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    Maybe you should stay away from knives. In creative writing, slightly unexpected turns of phrase are welcomed. If you're writing crime scene reports, maybe stay away from artistic flourishes. – JeffUK Mar 29 '18 at 23:05
  • Rather than the particular words, could you look why you want to say there is a small puddle of blood "too often." "… pile of blood" could work if you had the poetic skill. Otherwise, it would always look wrong. Either way, how is this not a Question on personal style or literary criticism? – Robbie Goodwin Mar 29 '18 at 23:08
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    liquid stuff cannot be described as occurring in piles. – Lambie Mar 29 '18 at 23:13

In his article Collocations with nominal quantifiers: Semantics and combinability, Vladimir Beliakov does not mention 'pile of blood' as a collocation, though he does mention the mainly abstract examples

‘a pile of questions, a pile of news, a pile of string, a pile of lies, a pile of problems, a pile of meanness, a pile of cowardice, a pile of weakness’

as well as some obvious physical examples

(‘a pile of laundry ... a pile of snow, a pile of leaves, a pile of papers, a pile of rags’).

He goes on to say that

[T]he combinability of the words ... ‘heap’, ‘armful’, ‘pile’, and ‘stack’ with [non-abstract] object nouns is semantically motivated, as conditioned by the quantifiers’ semantic concordance with their arguments. Thus ‘pile’ is combined with nouns of objects that are easily moved [and one would argue not fluids]. [Russian equivalents removed.]


"Pile of blood" doesn't sound great to my ears. You usually have piles of solid things, like books or leaves. However, some native speakers do say "pile of blood".

If you want a different term, try "pool of blood". This is the most common collocation there is according to my COCA search for _nn* of blood_nn*, which finds any noun followed by "of", followed by "blood" as a noun. If we include the plural ("pools"), there are 408 hits total.

In comparison, "pile(s) of blood" only had 4 hits, half of which were for "pile of blood and [something solid]".

  • Urghhh. I hate hits. :) Pool, puddle, splotch, splatter and probably many more. – Lambie Mar 29 '18 at 23:14

What I want to say is that there is a small puddle of blood but find myself using the term too often and want to try something different.

If you operated a blood bank, and had three or more bags of blood lying in a heap somewhere, you surely could call it a pile of blood. But it wouldn't normally apply to a small puddle of it. So, in the absence of specific context, this sounds more like bloodshed.

  • Oh dear, more bloodshed.

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