AskDefine | Define blurb

Dictionary Definition

blurb n : a promotional statement (as found on the dust jackets of books); "the author got all his friends to write blurbs for his book" [syn: endorsement, indorsement]

User Contributed Dictionary



Coined by American humorist Gelett Burgess (1866-1951) on a book dust jacket at a trade association dinner in 1907. It said “YES, this is a “BLURB”!” and featured a (ficticious) “Miss Belinda Blurb” shown calling out, described as “in the act of blurbing”.


  • IPA:/blɝ(ː)b/
  • Schoolbook Phonetics: (blûrb)
  • Last Resort Phonetics: blurrb
  • Rhymes: -ɜː(r)b


  1. A short description of a book, film, or other product written for promotional purposes.


Extensive Definition

A blurb is a short summary or some words of praise accompanying a creative work, usually referring to the words on the back of the book but also commonly seen on DVD and video cases, web portals and news websites.


The concept of a "brief statement praising a literary product" dates back to medieval literature of Egypt from the 14th century. The concept was known as taqriz in medieval Arabic literature.
The word "blurb" originated in 1907. American humorist Gelett Burgess's short 1906 book "Are you a bromide?" was presented in a limited edition to an annual trade association dinner. The custom at such events was to have a dust jacket promoting the work and with, as Burgess' publisher B. W. Huebsch described it,
"the picture of a damsel — languishing, heroic, or coquettish — anyhow, a damsel on the jacket of every novel"
In this case the jacket proclaimed "YES, this is a 'BLURB'!" and the picture was of a (fictitious) young woman "Miss Belinda Blurb" shown calling out, described as "in the act of blurbing."
The name and term stuck for any publisher's contents on a book's back cover, even after the picture was dropped and only the complementary text remained.


A blurb on a book or a film can be any combination of quotes from the work, the author, the publisher, reviewers or fans, a summary of the plot, a biography of the author or simply claims about the importance of the work. Many humorous books and films parody blurbs that deliver exaggerated praise by unlikely people and insults disguised as praise.
The Harvard Lampoon satire of Lord of the Rings, entitled Bored of the Rings, deliberately used phony blurbs by deceased authors on the inside cover. One of the blurbs stated "One of the two or three books...", and nothing else.
In the 1980s, Spy Magazine ran a regular feature called "Logrolling in Our Time" which exposed writers who wrote blurbs for one anothers' books. On the Internet a blurb is used to give a brief description or promotion of an article or other larger work.



  • The story of Miss Belinda Blurb at
  • McGlone, Matthew S. (2005). Contextomy: The Art of Quoting Out of Context. Media Culture, & Society, Vol. 27, No. 4, 511-522.
blurb in Danish: Blurb
blurb in German: Klappentext
blurb in Norwegian Nynorsk: vaskesetel
blurb in Norwegian: Blurb
blurb in Polish: Blurb

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

PR, acknowledgment, appreciation, ballyhoo, boost, bright light, buildup, celebrity, commendation, common knowledge, cry, currency, daylight, eclat, exposure, fame, famousness, glare, good word, honorable mention, hoopla, hue and cry, hype, limelight, maximum dissemination, notoriety, plug, press notice, promotion, public eye, public knowledge, public relations, public report, publicity, publicity story, publicness, puff, puffing, reclame, recognition, report, spotlight, write-up
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