[noun bal-ee-hoo; verb bal-ee-hoo, bal-ee-hoo]

noun, plural bal·ly·hoos.

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), bal·ly·hooed, bal·ly·hoo·ing.

to advertise or push by ballyhoo.

Origin of ballyhoo

An Americanism dating back to 1830–40; of uncertain origin

Synonyms for ballyhoo Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for ballyhoo

plug, publicity, buildup, hoopla, advertisement, hype, promotion, touting

Examples from the Web for ballyhoo

Contemporary Examples of ballyhoo

Historical Examples of ballyhoo

  • With a bait like a ballyhoo or a shiner I could get ten bites to one with mullet.

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for ballyhoo


noun informal

a noisy, confused, or nonsensical situation or uproar
sensational or blatant advertising or publicity

verb -hoos, -hooing or -hooed

(tr) mainly US to advertise or publicize by sensational or blatant methods

Word Origin for ballyhoo

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

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