smash hit

[smash hit]

What does smash hit mean?

A smash hit is a wildly successful piece of entertainment media, though its use has broadened to any successful enterprise, from beverages to technology. It's kind of like the viral of the pre-internet age.

Related words:

  • chart topper
  • must-see
  • overnight sensation
  • triumph
Examples of smash hit


Examples of smash hit
if you’re not talking about Britney Spears’ smash hit of 2003 then i don’t want to see the word toxic on my fucking timeline
@lovesicknoon, July 2018
On this day 19 years ago, Cash Money Records did it for the 99 and 2000, releasing Juvenile’s smash hit “Back That Azz Up”. if she doesn’t twerk when this song comes on, she’s a Russian Bot 💃
@revolttv, February 2018
The brewer's Angry Orchard rosé cider, which it introduced nationwide earlier this year, has been a smash hit with drinkers. And as we head into the fall months, it's likely to continue being a big seller, because cider sales tend to pick up at the tail end of summer.
Rich Duprey, The Motley Fool, July 2018

Where does smash hit come from?

smash hit

We’ve been using the word hit to describe a success of some kind, originally in crime and then the entertainment industry, since the 1810s. Hit, here, nods to hitting the mark, or succeeding at a specific task. The word is especially associated with hit records or TV shows.

It would be the 1900s before smash made the same transition—the word has a force that suggests “excellence.” The Brits were using smash for “a great success” as early as 1906. Think you look absolutely smashing! 

The two words combine their power in the intensive smash hit, found as early as an October 1923 Variety headline about two, big-selling Broadway productions.

By the 1940s, the phrase had taken off in reviews of plays, songs, musicals, and books from LIFE to Billboard.

Since then, seldom a headline didn’t call the 1990–2000s Harry Potter books or the 2015 Hamilton musical smash hits.

Who uses smash hit?

Smash hit is still widely used in the entertainment industry in headlines about and reviews of a standout song, movie, musical, book, or show. Industry publications and fans alike use the phrase, almost to the point it’s a critical cliché.

As the phrase ages, it becomes more and more common outside of just entertainment. Anything from jewelry and foods (remember the cronut?) to new smartphones and online video series can be smash hits as long as they get those $$$$$, those ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐, those 🖱🖱🖱🖱🖱.

Some speakers use smash hit to draw attention to what they see as underappreciated songs, artists, movies, or the like. Even though the work itself might not have been a box office or music chart success when it premiered, the speaker is using smash hit to say that it should have garnered more critical or popular attention.

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