I mean, why isn't it pronounced "blue-d" rather than "blud". And this applies to "flood" too, but not "glood" or "clood" I imagine.

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    Isn’t it the other way around? Usually spelling comes after pronunciation. So I think that a better question is “Why is ‘blood’ spelled this way instead of something like ‘blud’?” Nov 18, 2010 at 22:33
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    @Tsuyoshi: From the answer below, it appears that spelling did come before pronunciation, so the question is the right way around. :-) Nov 18, 2010 at 22:41
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    @Tsuyoshi Ito: in most other languages, yes, spelling comes after pronunciation. But English had The Great Vowel Shift plus the whole rifling-pockets-for-new-vocabulary thing, and thus the spelling of many words has very little to do with their pronunciation.
    – Marthaª
    Nov 19, 2010 at 1:41
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1 Answer 1


For the same reason that "flood" is pronounced the way it is!

More helpfully, I found this somewhere on the internet:

It might be worth bearing in mind that English spelling often records the pronunciation 600 years ago. And at that time, blood, flood, food and book would have all been pronounced with the same vowel. However, pronunciations have changed since then, so the spellings are a little unhelpful for learners of English today!

By Shakespeare's time, all of these words had the 'oo' vowel as in food (the traditional vowel with the lips rounded, not the fewd pronunciation mentioned by Fish). What happened was that the vowels of blood and flood shortened in the 16th century and had the vowel sound of put. Accents in southern England changed this sound to the one in putt.

Book, look and foot, however, had the shortening occurring later, and the put vowel remained, and did not change to the putt vowel.

And food did not shorten its vowel.

Sounds plausible to me!

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    +1 for good spot - the citation for your quote could be here: forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1896362
    – Gary
    Nov 18, 2010 at 22:36
  • Also interesting that "blud" and "blut" had a north/south divide in England.
    – Gary
    Nov 18, 2010 at 22:39
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    Yes. Words with short 'u' are generally pronounced with /ʌ/ in Southern England, but /ʊ/ in the North, with very few exceptions, (principally 'put' which is /pʊt/ even in the South; but not 'putt'). Words with short 'oo', conversely, are usually /ʊ/ everywhere in England, but a couple of exceptions have gone the opposite way and taken /ʌ/ in the South: the words we are talking about here. It may be significant that all these exceptions 'put', 'blood', 'flood', have begin with labial consonants.
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 19, 2010 at 14:31
  • @Gary Rowe: wd for finding & posting the link. Without wishing to diss thesunneversets, [s]he really ought to have posted it in the first place. I've never really learnt even the basics of the Great Vowel Shift, so I've no idea if this stuff is actually true. But like thesunneversets, I'm happy to go with it in the absence of contradiction from a more authoritative source. Apr 18, 2011 at 23:42
  • Interesting. I am not natively English, but rather Afrikaans, which is a newish language (300 years) derived from Dutch,German, and English. In Afrikaans the word for blood and flood is pronounced as blut and flut: "What happened was that the vowels of blood and flood shortened in the 16th century and had the vowel sound of put". The 16th century is round about the time that European settlers arrived here and started the process of forming a new language from the majority of languages spoken here.
    – callisto
    Jul 4, 2011 at 10:33

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