AskDefine | Define blessing

Dictionary Definition



1 the formal act of giving approval; "he gave the project his blessing"; "his decision merited the approval of any sensible person" [syn: approval, approving] [ant: disapproval]
2 a desirable state; "enjoy the blessings of peace"; "a spanking breeze is a boon to sailors" [syn: boon]
3 a short prayer of thanks before a meal [syn: grace, thanksgiving]
4 a ceremonial prayer invoking divine protection [syn: benediction]
5 the act of praying for divine protection [syn: benediction]

User Contributed Dictionary



Old English blētsunġ


  • /ˈbles.ɪŋ/, /"bles.IN/


  1. Some kind of divine or supernatural aid, or reward.
  2. A pronouncement invoking divine aid.
  3. Good fortune.
  4. In the context of "paganism": A modern pagan ceremony.
  5. the act of declaring, seeking or bestowing favor
  6. a thing one is glad of



Some kind of divine or supernatural aid, or reward
  • Czech: požehnání
  • Finnish: siunaus
  • German: Segen, Segnung
  • Irish: beannacht
  • Polish: błogosławieństwo
  • Portuguese: benção
  • Russian: благословение, милость
pronouncement invoking divine aid
  • Czech: požehnání
  • Finnish: siunaus
  • German: Segnen
  • Irish: beannacht
  • Polish: błogosławieństwo
  • Russian: благословение
Good fortune
(paganism) A modern pagan ceremony
act of declaring, seeking or bestowing favor
  • Finnish: siunaus
  • German: Segnen, Segnung
  • Kurdish:
    Sorani: خێر
  • Polish: błogosławieństwo
  • Russian: благословение, молитва
thing one is glad of

Extensive Definition

A blessing, (also used to refer to bestowing of such) is the infusion of something with holiness, divine will, or one's hopes.


The modern English language term bless likely derives from the 1225 term blessen, which developed from the Old English blǣdsian (preserved in the Northumbrian dialect around 950 AD). The term also appears in other forms, such as blēdsian (before 830 and derived from Proto-Germanic *blōðisōjanan), blētsian from around 725 and blesian from around 1000, all meaning to make sacred or holy by a sacrificial custom in Germanic paganism; to mark with blood. Due to this, the term is related to the term blōd, meaning blood. References to this indigenous practice, Blót, exist in Anglo-Saxon and Icelandic sources.
The modern meaning of the term may have been influenced in translations of the bible into Old English during the process of Christianization to translate the Latin term benedīcere meaning to "speak well of", resulting in meanings such as to "praise" or "extol" or to speak well of or to wish well.

Abrahamic religion

Within Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism and similar traditions, formal blessings of the church are performed by bishops, priests, and sometimes deacons, but as in many other religions, anyone may informally bless another.
"To be blessed" means 'to be favoured by God'. Blessings therefore are directly associated with God and come from God. Therefore to express a blessing, is like bestowing a wish on someone that she will experience the favour of God. "May you have a blessed Christmas", therefore can also be translated as: "May you experience the favor of God during this Christmas period."
A curse, at least in its most formal sense, is the opposite of a blessing. Compare charm.
In the Bible, blessings and curses are related; the book of Deuteronomy prescribes that obedience to the Torah brings God's blessing, while disobedience brings a curse.
One of the first incidences of blessing in the Bible is in Genesis where Abram is ordered by the to leave his country and is told:
The Priestly Blessing is set forth at Numbers :
May the bless you, and keep you;
May the make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
May the turn his countenance to you and grant you peace.
The New Testament commands Christians to bless and not to curse (Bible verse |Matthew|5:44|KJV; Bible verse |Luke|6:28|KJV; Bible verse |Romans|12:14|KJV). This supports the Christian doctrine that God is a God of love & mercy and that the Bible teaches that cursing and anger should be left to God - not us (in the sense that He will judge our works).
This formula has been introduced into Christian worship as well. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus pronounces blessings on the poor, the humble, and the persecuted in the Beatitudes at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church blessings are bestowed by bishops and priests in a liturgical context, raising their right hand and making the sign of the cross with it over persons or objects to be blessed. They also make blessings to begin divine services and at the dismissal at the end. A priest or bishop may also use a Blessing cross to bestow blessings.
Islam has no clerical caste, and therefore no blessings reserved to specific individuals. Islam itself is regarded as being a "Blessing upon mankind". Muslims will frequently pronounce "peace and blessings be upon him" when mentioning the name of Muhammad. Muslims will also greet one another with a blessing on such occasions as Eid.

Other uses

A blessing can also be a request for permission, as in "gaining your parents' blessing" would consist of having been granted consent. Clergy will normally receive a blessing from their ecclesiastical superiors to begin their ministry. In the Russian Orthodox Church pious laymen would go to a starets (elder) to receive his or her blessing before embarking upon any important work or making a major decision in their life.
In Spanish, there is a blessing which can be used as a tender farewell, especially from a parent: Vaya con Dios ("Go with God"), also Adios (A Dios, "to God"), similar to the French Adieu.
Blessing is also a term used for marriage in the Unification Church.
Blessing is the collective noun for a group of Unicorns.
blessing in German: Segen
blessing in Estonian: Õnnistus
blessing in Spanish: Bendición
blessing in Lithuanian: Palaiminimas
blessing in Dutch: Zegen
blessing in Polish: Błogosławieństwo
blessing in Portuguese: Bênção (Religião)
blessing in Simple English: Blessing
blessing in Finnish: Siunaus
blessing in Hebrew: ברכה (של מנהיג דתי)
blessing in Yiddish: ברכה

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Godspeed, OK, acceptance, accord, acquiescence, act of grace, act of kindness, adherence, admiration, advantage, affirmation, affirmative, affirmative voice, agreement, approbation, approval, assent, asset, avail, aye, beatification, beatitude, behalf, behoof, benedicite, benediction, benefaction, benefit, benevolence, benignity, benison, best wishes, blessedness, boon, bounty, break, canonization, compliance, compliment, congratulation, connivance, consecration, consent, countenance, courtesy, dedication, devotion, eagerness, endorsement, enshrinement, esteem, exaltation, favor, favorable vote, felicitation, felicity, fluke, fortunateness, fortune, gain, gift, glorification, godsend, good, good deed, good fortune, good luck, good offices, good turn, good wishes, grace, gratulation, hallowing, happy fortune, help, interest, invocation, justification, justification by works, kind deed, kind offices, kindly act, kindness, labor of love, loaves and fishes, luck, luckiness, lucky break, lucky strike, manna, manna from heaven, mercy, mitzvah, nod, obligation, office, okay, permission, prayer, profit, promptitude, promptness, purification, ratification, readiness, respect, run of luck, sainthood, sainting, sanctification, sanction, seal of approval, service, setting apart, smiles of fortune, stamp of approval, state of grace, streak of luck, stroke of luck, submission, thanks, thanksgiving, the breaks, turn, ungrudgingness, unloathness, unreluctance, valediction, voice, vote, welfare, well-being, willingness, world of good, yea, yea vote
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