In Present-day English blame is known to be the only verb which participates in what Levin (1993) calls the ‘blame alternation’ (e.g. Mira blamed the accident on Terry vs Mira blamed Terry for the accident). This article investigates how the modern usage has developed since the verb was borrowed from Old French at the beginning of Middle English, an area which has received little attention so far. With a comprehensive survey of the quotations database of the OED Online, the main focus is on the diachronic relationship between different syntactic patterns and the animacy of the target of blame. It will be demonstrated that, contrary to the common accounts in grammars and previous studies, the target is often not an animate being, and the two constructions forming the blame alternation have a very different origin and development, with a gap of five centuries between their first attestations. The status of the participant role expressing the cause of blame, which is considered to be omissible if it receives a definite interpretation from the context (e.g. Mira blamed Terry), will also be questioned.