Ancestry is a "blood bond." Are we "bonded" by blood or "bound" by blood?
On Twitter, @Quidnunciac asked about the past participle of “bond”:
SOS @grammargirl, ancestry is a "blood bond." Are we "bonded" by blood or "bound" by blood. College essay nightmare!— Quidnunciac (@Quidnunciac) November 20, 2012
It’s a great question because even though “bond” and “bound” seem as if they are related and actually do have similar meanings, they are separate words with different origins. Also, although Quicnunciac’s question is for a college essay, one wonders whether the talk of “blood bonds” is at least subconsciously motived by the final installment of Stephenie Meyer’s The Twilight Saga, which was just released last week.
“Bind” Versus “Bond”
Let’s look at the difference between “bind” and “bond.”
In a physical sense, when you bind something, you are taking two things and tying them together, but that tie can be broken. When you bond something, you are also joining two things, but you are are unifying them, making them much harder to separate. You’d use “bind” to talk about tying branches together to make a wreath, but you’d use “bond” to talk about gluing the whole wreath to a wooden backing.
“Bind” has another meaning though—one that conveys the idea of an obligation, oath, or committment—and oftentimes, this word makes more sense when you are talking about personal relationships.
“Bound” is the past tense and past participle of “to bind.” “Bonded” is the past tense and past participle of “to bond.”
- I bound her to me.
- I have bound her to me.
- I am bonded to her
- I have bonded her to me.
“You can’t imagine how tight I am bound,”
– Jacob Black in New Moon, trying to tell Bella about his bond to the wolves.
Quick and Dirty Tip
My father has a saying that may help you remember the difference between the physical senses of “bind” and “bound”: “the ties that bind and the glue that bonds.” Ties bind two separate things together, but can be broken or separated. A bond, like a blood bond or a glue bond, unifies something, making it one.
Here’s another quick and dirty tip: If you can remember that “bind” and “tie” both contain the letter “i” and if you are combining two separate things that could be separated later, like a rope, you use “bind.”
Answering the Question: “Bonded” or “Bound”
Finally, back to the original question about the blood bond we have with our ancestors: are we bonded by blood or bound by blood? Either word works depending on the meaning you want to convey, but “bound” is generally going to be the better choice.
If you want to give a sense of the obligations and committments that come with sharing blood, say we are bound by blood. If you want to give more of a sense of a strong, purely physical tie—perhaps the kind that is sometimes implied in vampire stories—you can say two people are bonded by blood.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.