I came across the word, 'Blood libel,' apparently associated with Ms. Sarah Palin's agressive statement which was zeroed in at Democratic lowmakers in today's Washington Post.
Neither Concise Oxford Dictionary nor Oxford American Dictionary carries this word. The latter defines 'libel' as:

  1. Published falese statement that damages a person's reputation.
  2. A statement or anything that brings discredit on a person or thing.

Both of which doesn't seem to me fitting to 'Blood libel' used in the context of the above statements. I think I can guess what the word means here, but is 'Blood libel' a broadly received expression in U.S. and U.K? Who coined this word on the earth?
I'm asking this because it's in many cases shown in parentheses.


Questions about whether Palin knew what she was getting into by using "blood libel" miss the mark. Right now, she is as much provocateur as politician.


Within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.

  • You’re misquoting her: She said “pundints”, not “pundits”. Jan 13, 2011 at 13:53
  • Konrad. I simply pasted the second quote from an excerpt I found in i-google. I didn't know she demonstrated the fame of malapropist in the above instance. - Yoichi Jan 13, 2011 at 21:50

1 Answer 1


Blood libels seems to be an established expression, one used without quotes (") nor parenthesis.

It is employed as such in this article "Sarah Palin causes a controversy with the phrase “blood libel.” What does it mean, and why are people upset?".
Benjol also mentions the BBC article "What does 'blood libel' mean?".

The Wikipedia article details its long history.

  • Vonc. Thanks a lot for your quick input. The article on 'Blood libels' in the Wikipedia is really helpful and interesting. I had the slightest idea that the word has weathered a long path of history, and its origin dates back to 12th century when the blood libels targtted at Jews took place. Though I'm not yet through the article because it's pretty long, I'll print it out after this, and peruse full contents by 'kicking back'(the usage I learned from the site). Again many thanks.- Yoich Jan 13, 2011 at 8:56
  • @VonC, another link here to add to your list, though it's probably mostly pinched off Wikipedia :)
    – Benjol
    Jan 13, 2011 at 8:58
  • @Benjol: thank you for this link. I have included it in the answer.
    – VonC
    Jan 13, 2011 at 9:30
  • @VonC, +1 then ;)
    – Benjol
    Jan 13, 2011 at 9:36
  • Sarah Palin's effort to defuse controversy backfires with 'blood libel' comment. Jan 14, 2011 at 0:00

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