Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To make holy by religious rite; sanctify.
  • transitive v. To make the sign of the cross over so as to sanctify.
  • transitive v. To invoke divine favor upon.
  • transitive v. To honor as holy; glorify: Bless the Lord.
  • transitive v. To confer well-being or prosperity on.
  • transitive v. To endow, as with talent.
  • idiom bless you Used to wish good health to a person who has just sneezed.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • interj. Used as an expression of endearment, or (ironically) belittlement.
  • v. To make something blessed, to confer blessing upon.
  • v. (past tense only blessed) To turn (a reference) into an object.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To make or pronounce holy; to consecrate.
  • transitive v. To make happy, blithesome, or joyous; to confer prosperity or happiness upon; to grant divine favor to.
  • transitive v. To express a wish or prayer for the happiness of; to invoke a blessing upon; -- applied to persons.
  • transitive v. To invoke or confer beneficial attributes or qualities upon; to invoke or confer a blessing on, -- as on food.
  • transitive v. To make the sign of the cross upon; to cross (one's self).
  • transitive v. To guard; to keep; to protect.
  • transitive v. To praise, or glorify; to extol for excellences.
  • transitive v. To esteem or account happy; to felicitate.
  • transitive v. To wave; to brandish.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To consecrate or set apart to holy or sacred purposes; make or pronounce holy: formerly occasionally used of persons.
  • To consecrate (a thing) by a religious rite, as with prayer and thanksgiving; consecrate or hallow by asking God's blessing on: as, to bless food.
  • To sanctify (one's self) by making the sign of the cross, especially as a defense against evil influences or agencies: used reflexively.
  • To defend; preserve; protect or guard from evil; reflexively, to guard one's self from; avoid; eschew.
  • To invoke or pronounce a blessing upon (another or others); commend to God's favor or protection.
  • To confer well-being upon; bestow happiness, prosperity, or good of any kind upon; make happy, prosperous, or fortunate; prosper with temporal or spiritual benefits: as, a nation blessed with peace and plenty.
  • To favor (with); make happy or fortunate by some specified means: as, blessed with a good constitution; blessed with filial children.
  • To praise or extol as holy or worthy of reverence, or
  • as the giver of benefits; extol or glorify with thankful acknowledgment of benefits received.
  • To esteem or account happy; congratulate; felicitate: used reflexively.
  • [Often used in exclamations with various shades of meaning departing more or less widely from the literal sense: as, God bless me! bless you! bless the mark! etc.]
  • To ejaculate “Bless me,” “God bless me,” or the like.
  • To wound; hurt; beat; thump.
  • [Appar. a deflection of sense Some fancy that it refers to “the old rite of blessing a field by directing the hands to all parts of it” (see bless).] To wave; brandish.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. give a benediction to
  • v. render holy by means of religious rites
  • v. make the sign of the cross over someone in order to call on God for protection; consecrate
  • v. confer prosperity or happiness on

Etymologies

Middle English blessen, from Old English blētsian, to consecrate; see bhel-3 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English blessen, from Old English blētsian, blēdsian ("to consecrate (with blood)"), from Proto-Germanic *blōþisōnan (“to sprinkle, mark or hallow with blood”), from *blōþan (“blood”), from Proto-Indo-European *bhlo-to- (“to gush, spurt”), from *bhol-, *bhlē-dh-, *bhlō(w)- (“to thrive, flourish, bloom”). Cognate with Old Icelandic bletza (Modern Icelandic blessa, "to bless"), Old English blēdan ("to bleed"). More at bleed. (Wiktionary)
An ellipsis for an expression such as bless your heart (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Means "goodbye" in Icelandic.

    July 13, 2009