[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

Examples from the Web for ballyhooed

Contemporary Examples of ballyhooed

Historical Examples of ballyhooed

  • The show was ballyhooed the whole week while the work went on.

  • I confessed how I ballyhooed at the door of an embroidery shop whenever a ship loosed English passengers for a two-hour visit.

  • Jim was stupefied to find himself once more pilloried and portraited and ballyhooed in the newspapers.

British Dictionary definitions for ballyhooed


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 ballyhooed



"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