Dean: I'm here to kick off the first day of a new tradition at our school called Green Week

Pierce: What? First we get a month of black history, now we're blowing seven days on the Irish.

— Community

It may be kind of a slangy phrase as it came from a TV show. I guess he was saying now he need to contribute seven days to the Irish— figuratively because of the colour green.

Is this the direct meaning of the phrase or a rhetorical one?

Can someone provide another example of this usage of blow?


3 Answers 3


"blow" in this context is a colloquial form meaning to waste, and can refer to time or money:

I just blew all my money on a new car.

We blew seven hours building a tree house and last night's storm knocked it out of the tree!

In other contexts, it means to ruin:

Don't tell her I got drunk last night - I don't want to blow my chances with her.

It's not every day you get an offer from a company like that - don't blow this opportunity!

The idiom blow one's cover means to reveal their true identity or hiding place:

She really thinks I'm French. Don't blow my cover! (=don't reveal the truth that I'm American)

  • You could also say "last night's storm blew it out of the tree" — but that might only muddy the waters ;^)
    – J.R.
    Aug 6, 2014 at 16:10
  • That's exactly why I didn't use it :)
    – CocoPop
    Aug 6, 2014 at 16:47
  • Blow [a] cover is more or less a specialized term, too. You wouldn't say blow my makeup or blow my facade. Aug 6, 2014 at 19:11
  • ...which is why I didn't include those expressions
    – CocoPop
    Aug 6, 2014 at 19:26

This is being used as in Merriam-Webster's definition 9a of the transitive verb form:

to expend (as money) extravagantly

The adverb extravagantly is the key -- I wouldn't say I blew 50 dollars on food this week, since food is a necessity and 50 dollars is a reasonable amount (where I live, anyway). If, however, I threw caution to the wind and decided to get a whole new wardrobe, it would be appropriate to say I blew 1000 bucks on clothes this weekend!

In this case, the speaker thinks he's devoting quite enough time already to other cultures by having Black History Month, and an entire week for the Irish is just really pushing it.

It's quite a slang expression.

  • 2
    There's a famous joke that goes something like: "I won $10,000 in the lottery. I spent $9,000 on beer and women — and then I just blew the rest." A synonym for blew in this context might be squandered.
    – J.R.
    Aug 6, 2014 at 16:08
  • @J.R. That's a great synonym here. Aug 6, 2014 at 16:08

It's sense 4 here...

1: blow [WITH OBJECT] INFORMAL Spend recklessly:
they blew £100,000 in just eighteen months

...which is effectively a "variant" of sense 27 here...

2: blue (verb, tr) to spend extravagantly or wastefully; squander

Also note this closely-related slang usage...

3: to blow it to lose or waste something; to do very poorly or fail miserably.

It's worth pointing out that the example usage in #1 above could have appeared under #2 as

2a: they blued £100,000 in just eighteen months

My impression is that usage #2 is increasingly avoided precisely because it's being replaced by #1 and/or #3 - a replacement at least partly promoted by the fact that to blue is a "regular verb", so the present tense verb form sounds identical to the past tense of to blow (blew).

Native speakers are slightly disconcerted by the overlap in the spoken forms for the different tenses. And because both verbs (blow/blue) are slang/informal in these usages, many people only know them in spoken rather than written contexts. Consequently, there are lots of native speakers who've never really noticed exactly how to blue is used. And perhaps become uncertain about exactly how they might write it. The net result of this confusion is people increasingly avoid #2 above, even though it's probably the origin of usage #1.

  • 1
    I've never heard of this use of blue before. Is it BrE?
    – user230
    Aug 6, 2014 at 14:17
  • Perhaps I didn't explain myself very well. I would say it's almost 100% certain you have heard the usage many times - you just haven't noticed it because you assume you're hearing the past tense of to blow. The usage goes back to at least the mid 1800s, and is as much AmE as BrE. There's considerable uncertainty over the etymology - my own feeling is to blue here originally derived from "punning" on the past tense of to blow before the latter had its current sense. But in more recent times the opposite deerivation has kicked in for the exact modern sense as covered here. Aug 6, 2014 at 14:25
  • 3
    If that's its origin, fine, I have no reason to argue with that, but it's clearly synchronically unrelated. Blow and blew are in alternation in a clear inflectional paradigm and blue is unavailable in my idiolect.
    – user230
    Aug 6, 2014 at 14:29
  • @snailplane: You don't give "age" in your profile, but the implication of my answer is that younger speakers are increasingly likely to be unaware of the blue = squander usage even if older people around them are still using it (in speech). Obviously it's hard to avoid noticing if you come across it in writing - but because it's rather informal, you might never do that even if you read quite a lot (because it'll mainly be restricted to "reported speech" in particular types of fiction that you might not usually read). Aug 6, 2014 at 15:08

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