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ballyhoo

[noun bal-ee-hoo; verb bal-ee-hoo, bal-ee-hoo]
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noun, plural bal·ly·hoos.
  1. a clamorous and vigorous attempt to win customers or advance any cause; blatant advertising or publicity.
  2. clamor or outcry.
  3. a halfbeak, Hemiramphus brasiliensis, inhabiting both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
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verb (used with or without object), bal·ly·hooed, bal·ly·hoo·ing.
  1. to advertise or push by ballyhoo.
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Origin of ballyhoo

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

Synonyms

See more synonyms for ballyhoo on Thesaurus.com
1. buildup, hoopla, fanfare; hype.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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.

  • 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

ballyhoo

noun informal
  1. a noisy, confused, or nonsensical situation or uproar
  2. sensational or blatant advertising or publicity
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verb -hoos, -hooing or -hooed
  1. (tr) mainly US to advertise or publicize by sensational or blatant methods
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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

Word Origin and History for ballyhoo

n.

"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."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper