• hoopla •
Pronunciation: hu-plah • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. (Colloquial) Ballyhoo, foofaraw, hullabaloo; a boisterous, extravagant, jovial commotion. 2. Two games involving throwing either a ball through a hoop or throwing the hoop itself as a test of accuracy.
Notes: Hoopla in the US is a game in which the players throw balls through circles positioned on a clown's head and hands. In the UK it is a game in which players throw rings at a number of articles on a board in order to win one by completely encircling it with a ring. In both countries it refers to a boisterous event expressed by a lexical orphan, hoopla, a word without derivational relatives.
In Play: Today's word generally refers to a confused and confusing noise: "I've never seen such hoopla as an American political convention." However, it may metaphorically refer to a big, mixed-media campaign: "The Teddy Baer Toy Company announced its new inflatable dartboard with so much hoopla, it made a big splash with toy dealers."
Word History: Today's Good Word apparently was derived from whoop, an exclamation of excitement, surprise, or exultation along the lines of whoopee! and (w)hoop-de-doo. The initial W is this word is usually silent and it isn't even always written. This word may have been influenced by French houp-là "upsy-daisy", which you would say when lifting a heavy object or throwing a baby up in the air. Houp is an imaginative creation, perhaps from the sound a person might make when lifting a heavy object. Là means "there", as in voilà, literally "see there", but used in situations similar to those in which English speakers would say, "There!" or "Here!" (Without much hoopla, we would now like to thank Suzanne Williams for suggesting today's Good Word.)