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[noun bal-ee-hoo; verb bal-ee-hoo, bal-ee-hoo] /noun ˈbæl iˌhu; verb ˈbæl iˌhu, ˌbæl iˈhu/
noun, plural ballyhoos.
a clamorous and vigorous attempt to win customers or advance any cause; blatant advertising or publicity.
clamor or outcry.
a halfbeak, Hemiramphus brasiliensis, inhabiting both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
verb (used with or without object), ballyhooed, ballyhooing.
to advertise or push by ballyhoo.
Origin of ballyhoo
An Americanism dating back to 1830-40; of uncertain origin
1. buildup, hoopla, fanfare; hype. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ballyhoo
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • With a bait like a ballyhoo or a shiner I could get ten bites to one with mullet.

    Tales of Fishes Zane Grey
  • The ballyhoo upon the elevated platform without had been completed.

    Sundry Accounts

    Irvin S. Cobb
  • In the first place the ballyhoo advertisers have shouted the public deaf.

  • Why, once he took a job as a ballyhoo at a show on the Bowery in Coney Island.

    Ruth Fielding Down East

    Alice B. Emerson
  • Why not hire a band, too; and get a ballyhoo to bark for your show?

    Rich Man, Poor Man

    Maximilian Foster
  • ballyhoo” fixed his eye on one of the red men, who seemed to be at the rear.

    The Great Cattle Trail Edward S. Ellis
  • There is no danger,” he replied, calmly puffing his pipe; “is there, ballyhoo?

    The Great Cattle Trail Edward S. Ellis
  • It struck the youth as strange that ballyhoo should stop after starting for the dwelling.

    The Great Cattle Trail Edward S. Ellis
British Dictionary definitions for ballyhoo


noun (informal)
a noisy, confused, or nonsensical situation or uproar
sensational or blatant advertising or publicity
verb -hoos, -hooing, -hooed
(transitive) (mainly US) to advertise or publicize by sensational or blatant methods
Word Origin
C19: of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ballyhoo

"publicity, hype," 1908, from circus slang, "a short sample of a sideshow" (1901), of unknown origin. There is a village of Ballyhooly in County Cork, Ireland. In nautical lingo, ballahou or ballahoo (1867, perhaps 1836) meant "an ungainly vessel," from Spanish balahu "schooner."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for ballyhoo



: a ballyhoo expert


Advertising or publicity, esp of a raucous and colorful sort; flack, hype: to peddle a product with sheer ballyhoo


: They ballyhooed him right into office

[1908+; ''a short sample of a sideshow, presented with a barker's spiel'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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