What Does At First Blush Mean?

At First Blush Meaning

Definition: At first glance; when first examined.

This idiom can also be used to mean when a person first begins to think about something, as in “at first thought,” or “at first consideration.”

Interestingly, in the past, this expression may not have qualified as an idiom at all.

Nowadays, blush is a verb used for the face turning red. However, in the past, blush had a secondary meaning, “to look or glance.” This definition is now obsolete, with the exception of this expression.

Origin of At First Blush

at my first glanceThe word blush originated around the year 1300 in Middle English and came from the Old English word blyscan.

The origin of the full idiom at first blush in unknown. However, the earliest written record available to view online is in William Spurstowe’s The Wells of Salvation Opened, from the year 1655.

Examples of At First Blush

At first blush originThis idiom can be used to refer to someone’s initial thoughts of how something appears visually, as it does in the example below, in which a real estate agent and his client speak about a house.

Real estate agent: I think you’re really going to love this next place. At first blush, it doesn’t look like anything special. It’s not that big and it’s not that well kept up.

Client: What’s its redeeming feature?

Real estate agent: You’ll see once you’re inside. It’s got real character!

In the example below, two friends are discussing their love lives. In this case, the expression is used to refer to a first impression.

Luis: Hey. How did your blind date go?

Stephanie: Well, at first blush, he seemed like a really nice guy. However, after an hour of talking to him, I realized he was very self-centered and condescending. He didn’t even tip the waiter!

More Examples

  • And it’s a reality that’s important to use as context when we come across numbers like those in the Common Sense survey (nine hours a day!) that, at first blush, seem awfully alarming. –Chicago Tribune
  • At first blush, the question that the people of Colombia will be asked on Sunday in a referendum that could end a half-century of civil war seems simple and straightforward. –Miami Herald

Summary

At first blush is used to describe how something first looked, or how something seemed when first thought about. It is similar to saying “at first glance.”