Blood on Hands – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Did someone say you have ‘blood on your hands' after making a decision? Are you responsible for the outcome, or can you pass the blame to someone else?

This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The expression ‘blood on your hands’ means that you’re responsible for the death or suffering of others due to poor decision-making. You may have a direct or indirect role in the death or suffering of others, or you cause grievance or injuries to someone else.

Example Usage

“Donald Trump has blood on his hands for how he handled the coronavirus. If that’s the case, Joe Biden is bathing in blood right now.”

“The media really know how to embellish everything they report. Saying Donald Trump has ‘blood on his hands’ is hyperbole.”

“It’s the way it is, and there’s nothing you can do about it. The blood is on your hands. It was your poor decision-making that led to this disaster.”

“If you think I have blood on my hands, then you’re just as guilty as me. Look at you sitting there all smug when you know you have as much responsibility for this as I do.”

“You have blood on your hands, and I’m not going to let you get away with this. I’m taking you to court, and we’ll let the jury decide.”

“So, you think you have nothing to do with all this? You have blood on your hands, my friend, and I’m going to make sure you pay for this.”

“There is blood on your hands, and you need to admit your mistake. By dodging the blame, you’re damaging your reputation with the public.”


The expression ‘blood on your hands’ originates from the Boston Globe newspaper and a scathing review of Donald Trump’s response to the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. The phrase appeared in April 2020 in an article by the Boston Globe’s editorial board.

During the early days of the pandemic, some political commentators said Trump was too slow to close travel from outside countries to the US, allowing the virus to spread. The article from the Boston Globe editorial team suggested Donald Trump’s actions profoundly impacted the pandemic's severity.

They also mentioned that the spread of the virus was preventable, but the poor decision-making from the Trump administration led to bad management of the situation.

The phrase appears in the editorial as follows.

“The months the administration wasted with prevarication about the threat and its subsequent missteps will amount to exponentially more COVID-19 cases than were necessary,” the editorial board added. “In other words, the president has blood on his hands.”

Phrases Similar to Blood on Hands

  • Responsible.
  • Accountable.

Phrases Opposite to Blood on Hands

  • Clean as a whistle.
  • Good decisions.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Blood on hands.
  • Blood on your hands.
  • Blood on my hands.

Ways People May Say Blood on Hands Incorrectly

The expression ‘blood on your hands’ doesn’t refer to you having blood on your hands in the physical sense. It refers to your decision-making and how it led to disaster or death for someone else or the downfall of a community.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Blood on Hands

You can use the phrase ‘blood on your hands’ when telling someone they’re responsible for the death or suffering of others. The term suits social and professional use. You could use it at the office to describe how the CEO has ‘blood on his hands’ for driving the company to the brink of insolvency. You can use it with friends to explain how a politician is responsible for making poor decisions while in office.

‘Blood on your hands’ can define death, but it’s also suitable for describing a dire situation that doesn’t have a fatal outcome. The phrase suits use in text and spoken conversations, and it’s common to hear it in discussions on politicians' national and international policies.

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