This is from "Rost Region" by Rudyard Kipling:

"Carter, what the blessed heavens are you doing at the rear? Bring your men up, man."
There was no answer, till a trooper replied:—
"Carter Sahib is forward—not there. There is nothing behind us."
"There is," said the subaltern. "The squadron's walking on its own tail."
Then the Major in command moved down to the rear swearing softly and asking for the blood of Lieutenant Halley—the subaltern who had just spoken.
"Look after your rearguard," said the Major. "Some of your infernal thieves have got lost. They're at the head of the squadron, and you're a several kinds of idiot."

I don't understand the meaning of "asking for the blood of."

  • 1
    Er, it's called 'The Lost Legion'. May 29, 2021 at 6:50

1 Answer 1


"Asking for the blood of someone" is not common usage in modern American English (in my experience). A more common idiom is calling for someone's head, which uses:

call for, verb
3. (figuratively) To request, demand.

similarly to "asking for" in your quote. The idea is that the person is demanding the physical head of the person in question, i.e. that they be beheaded. The usage is figurative today, meaning that the speaker wants the person to be punished, reprimanded, fired, taken to task, etc.

So in your example the Major is looking for Lieutenant Halley, specifically because he wants to scold him.

  • 2
    I'll point out that "out for blood" is a similar idiom.
    – nick012000
    May 29, 2021 at 6:46
  • 1
    @randomhead,thanhk you for your detailed answer. Now I clearly understand the meaning! May 29, 2021 at 8:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .