What Does A Blot On the Landscape Mean?

Blot on the Landscape Meaning

Definition: Something that ruins an otherwise pleasant view, or something small that makes an entire place look less attractive.

A blot is something small that stands out from the background. A blot on the landscape means that that small thing is particularly unattractive and the background is particularly appealing. The background would be even more attractive without the blemish, and the blemish detracts from the beauty of the background itself.

A building can be a blot on a rural landscape, and garbage can be a blot on an otherwise clean landscape.

Origin of Blot On the Landscape

Blot comes from the 14th-century Old Norse word blettr, which originally meant, blemish, which is a small mark or stain that ruins the appearance of something.

blots on a landscapeOne of the first instances of the entire phrase a blot on the landscape was in T.E. Lawrence’s ‘Letters,’ from 1938:

  • His two Kufti people – will be rather a blot on the landscape.

A few decades later, Tom Sharpe published the novel Blott on the Landscape (1975), about a fictional motorway constructed through rural South Worfordshire, a fictional region of England.

Blott is both a character in the book and a pun on the idiom, as the motorway ends up destroying the beautiful countryside.

Examples of Blot On the Landscape

blott on the landscapeIn the modern day, people use blot on the landscape to talk about something that spoils a pleasant view.

For example,

  • Some people say windmills are a blot on the landscape, but I disagree; I prefer them to a coal factory.


  • They built a skyscraper in the middle of our city. It’s so tall and ugly; it’s a blot on the landscape.

More Examples

  • Parking barges in the river would create a visual blot on the landscape as well as generate additional light and noise pollution. –Albany Times Union
  • Not only is dumped rubbish and litter a blot on the landscape in England’s ‘green and pleasant land’ immortalized by William Blake, but it is a poor advertisement for the areas concerned. –The Yorkshire Post


When something is called a blot on the landscape, it covers up or otherwise detracts from the aesthetic value of something.