What is a Blowhard?

Blowhard Meaning

Definition: A person who brags or talks a lot in an obnoxious manner.

Origin of Blowhard

This expression dates back to around the year 1850. It can appear as a single word, blowhard, or in hyphenated form, blow-hard. Some sources suggest this term originated as a popular sailor’s slang. These same sources also suggest that the term may not have initially carried the meaning of boasting, but, instead, another weather related meaning.

It is possible that blow in this word refers to speaking. Sometimes speech that is ridiculous or negative in some other way is referred to with words like blow or air. The idea behind this is that the lungs push air past the vocal cords and through the mouth and nose to produce speech. If the speech is nonsense, or serves no meaningful purpose, the person is merely blowing air.

A similar expression is full of hot air. This means that someone speaks a lot without saying anything meaningful or important. It can also mean that a person brags a lot.

Blowhard has a negative connotation, so it is a rude thing to call someone.

Examples of Blowhard

definition of blowhard

In this dialogue, a brother and sister are discussing the new boss that the sister has.

Maria: The new manager at work is the worst.

Franco: What’s the matter with him?

Maria: He’s a total blowhard. He’s only been at work one day, and he spent the whole time bragging about how he used to be a very important person at a much bigger company. He claims to have managed an entire IT department, but he couldn’t even figure out how to hook up his printer.

Franco: Well, maybe he just needs time to adjust.

Maria: It’s possible. However, he also claimed to be an expert at conflict resolution. Rather than solving any conflict, he actually caused a fight! He’s bragging so much but has no evidence to back up any of his outrageous claims.

define blowhardThe second example shows two university students who are complaining about their sociology professor.

Lorenzo: I can’t stand this guy. He’s such a blowhard!

Alba: I know! All he does is talk about how influential he is in the field of sociology. He brags so much that I haven’t learned anything of importance from him!

More Examples

The excerpt below is from an advice column.

  • You had ample advance notice that your friend “Don” is a blow-hard. People like Don talk a big game in order to artificially inflate others’ opinions of them. This tendency is most impactful when the stakes are high, and you’re relying on him to make good on his word. –Denver Post

This excerpt is a quote from a boxing promoter.

  • “You can be a schemer or a blow-hard in this business and it works for awhile, but my strength was finding a story line for a fight and selling it.” –LA Times

Summary

The term blowhard describes people who boast about themselves too much, and who often don’t have the great qualities they claim to have.

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