Is there any difference in meaning between blame and accuse or are they interchangeable? I looked both of them up in the dictionaries and couldn't figure out if there's any difference between them. Dictionary Definitions Accuse → If you accuse someone of doing something wrong or dishonest, you say or tell them that you believe that they did it. Blame → If you blame a person or thing for something bad, you believe or say that they are responsible for it or that they caused it.

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    What did you find confusing about the definitions when you looked them up in the dictionary? They are similar and it would help us write better answers if you explained your current understanding.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 17:41
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    When I looked them up in the dictionaries, I found them very much similar in meaning. I couldn't figure out what the difference between both of them was.
    – Gurpreet
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 17:53
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    @Adam I've included the definitions.
    – Gurpreet
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 18:26
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    I think the key difference is that you believe that they did it and you believe or say that they are responsible for it.
    – user31782
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 18:47
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    Another difference is that blame can be apportioned (as if it was a quantity), e.g. "I partially blame the government for allowing this to happen" whereas an accusation is either made or not made - you can't "partially accuse" someone. Commented May 27, 2016 at 2:46

3 Answers 3


Formally, we use accuse with an act—we assert that somebody did something reprehensible:

Mary accuses John of failing to lock the door.

But we use blame with the outcome—we assert somebody's responsibility for the undesirable result:

Mary blames John for the robbery. OR
Mary blames the robbery on John.

Informally, however, these distinctions often blur. For instance, if the robbery has already been mentioned, blame may very easily take a for clause which explains why the target is blamed:

Mary's house has been robbed. Mary blames John, for failing [=because he failed] to lock the door.

And accuse may take a complement which expresses a state rather than an act:

Mary accuses John of being responsible for the robbery.

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    A key part of the difference to me is that accuse is always an external act. Blame may not be. Someone can blame their neighbor for killing their dog but never say a word to anyone about it - keep it all inside their own head. Blame can also be used to mean "make public your assessment of guilt" - it works either way, but accuse is always a public airing.
    – Adam
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 18:42

Blame is thinking that someone did something wrong. Accuse is witnessing that someone did something wrong and stating that.

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    Wrong in all respects.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 18:34

When a PERSON(n) is added to the QUESTION it can easily become an ACCUSATION or in a court of law it can also be called "Leading".

Scenario: I'm really busy today so I can't take Grandma to the Store. Question: Can you please try and take grandma to the store? Leading: Do you not love your Grandma enough to take her to the Store?

There are also subtle nuances of the english language where a person can take offense and feel like they are being accused just in the order their name is inserted into the question like so:

Scenario: Johns Wallet is missing. Question: What happened to my wallet? Accusation: What happened to my wallet John?

There are also generalized accusations where a person may "FEEL" accused.

Scenario: Marry comes home and feels really hot. Question: I'm hot, can you turn ON the A/C? Accusation: I'm hot, did you turn OFF the A/C?

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