Bling-Bling (or simply bling) is a slang term popularized in hip hop culture, referring to flashy or elaborate jewelry and ornamented accessories that are carried, worn, or installed, such as cell phones or tooth caps.
Origins and popularization of the term
In linguistic terms, bling is an ideophone intended to evoke the "sound" of light hitting silver, platinum, or diamonds. It is not onomatopoeia, because the act of jewelry shining does not make a sound. The form bling-bling is a case of reduplication. The origins of the term are disputed and claimed by various artists. Physicist Richard Feynman used the term in his collection of short stories "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" when describing the relation of a poem to physics: "...the theoretical bling-bling with the so-and-so".
During the 1980s and early 1990s, comedians such as Martin Lawrence parodied the "Ultrabrite smile" by vocalizing the sound effect as "bling". The term was used in this way to describe a gaudy piece of jewelry, for example the otherwise rotten gold-toothed smile and stereotypical pimp jewelry of the character "Jerome" on the television series Martin. The term became popularized in this sense during the fall of 1999 when the song "Bling Bling" by rap artist B.G. featuring Lil Wayne cracked the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100. The Oxford English Dictionary thus recognizes the first usage of "bling" as occurring in late 1999.
While the specific term bling was first popularized in the hip hop community, it has spread beyond hip hop culture and into mass culture. It was added to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary in 2002 and to the Merriam Webster dictionary in 2006. Companies such as Sprint and Cadillac have used the word bling in their advertisements. During a 2008 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day parade in Jacksonville, Florida, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney admired a baby decked in dress attire with gold jewelry and said, "Oh, you've got some bling-bling here." In 2004, MTV released a satirical cartoon showing the term being used first by a rapper and then by several progressively less "streetwise" characters, concluding with a middle-aged white woman describing her earrings to her elderly mother. It ended with the statement, "RIP bling-bling 1997-2003." In 2005, the rapper B.G. remarked that he "just wished that he'd trademarked it" so that he could have profited from its use.
In other languages
The term has also spread to Spanish: rappers use the term in Latin hip-hop and in reggaeton from Puerto Rico and Panama, although it is usually written and pronounced "blink-blink". The Spanish word blinblineo is also used to refer to bling-bling style. The term is used in French traditionally to describe nouveau riche attitudes; such as "wearing expensive suits, stylish sunglasses and conspicuously large wristwatches" or anything that is ostentatious and can be considered of "flamboyant taste".
This article (modified version) is based on the article Bling-Bling in Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. In Wikipedia a list of authors is available.
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