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I found a phrase, “What’s the buzz about ...?” in the following sentence in an article of Washington Post (January 20 issue) referring to the State party hosted by President Obama for welcoming Chinese president Hu Jintao, where the House Speaker, John Boehner apparently didn’t show up. What does “What’s the buzz about something?” mean? What the word,”buzz” does in this particular context represent for? Is the connotation of this phrase peripheral to “What’s up?”

I also found an example of “what's the buzz about?” in a short phrase – “So what's the buzz about Michael Jackson's new baby?” in another source. Can somebody clarify for me?

“The question is, and this is what Barack Obama didn't want to answer — is that human life a person under the Constitution and Barack Obama says ... Boehner's no: Just how big of a social and political faux pas was it for Speaker Boehner to say no to the state dinner? What's the buzz about Exactly why he did it? To appear 'tough'? I'd say he just appeared small and petty.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

the relevant definition from m-w.com is:

speculative or excited talk or attention relating especially to a new or forthcoming product or event ; also : an instance of such talk or attention

So "what's the buzz about X?" is essentially asking "what are people saying about X?", or perhaps "how does the general public perceive X?"

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Hellion. Can I say 'What's the people's reaction (perception) to it? - Yoichi –  Yoichi Oishi Jan 22 '11 at 6:53
    
Yes, the people's reaction to, or perception of the thing would be an appropriate re-wording. –  Hellion Jan 22 '11 at 6:58

The "Buzz about something" phrase is usually used when we talk about the "latest bit of news" about someone or something.

Example: So whats the buzz about who will win the Oscars this time??

Try to imagine bees buzzing all around you. Thats how we would all sound when we talking / gossiping about the latest news.

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Dharu. Hey. I got you. "Buzz" reminds me an old memory that I was told by an American client to make DYKM (Do You Know Me?) a "Buzz Word" among Japanese consumers when I was working for the launch campaign of American Express Gold Card account in an ad agency in early 1980s. I was still young and energetic at that time. –  Yoichi Oishi Jan 22 '11 at 21:24

buzz = rumor, gossip "What's the buzz about Exactly why he did it? " is a rhetorical question here. A question that doesn't need an answer. You can understand "what's the big deal?", you can understand "what's the buzz about...?"

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Flona. Urban Dictionary gave the difinition of 'buzz'. But to me none of them is felt to fit the above usage very well. May be I'm wrong.1. Anything that creates excitement or stimulus. 2. The feeling experienced by someone in a stimulated state. 3. Gossip. –  Yoichi Oishi Jan 22 '11 at 10:40

http://www.moviefone.com/movie/jesus-christ-superstar/14045/main

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Christ_Superstar

http://www.jesuschristsuperstar.com/

http://www.lyricsdepot.com/jesus-christ-superstar/whats-the-buzz-strange-things-mystifying.html (one lyric leading to other lyrics...search What's the buzz lryics jesus christ superstar)

One source of that phrase (or should I say, those phrases) is the Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice Broadway (and road) rock opera musical production, Jesus Christ Superstar (ca, 1973) in which the repeating lyric, "What's the buzz, tell me what's happening," recurred repeatedly (much in style of scene and theme setting Chorus ala Greek tragedy) as an accompaniment to the soloist lyric in several settings and songs. As such, the phrasing served to some varying degree as an antagonistsic vehicle for revealing the protagonist Jesus' inner thoughts and frustations, soon resolved in a tragic recognition by Jesus of the apparent hopelessness of his cause.

To have best appreciation of both that source and the topic you raise, hearing the soundtrack of that play is a most worthwhile endeavor. Or film video although the musically & lyrically poignent opera, in this writer's opinion, translated best to audio.

Now, the time frame of that production is such that the performance and sound track release of Jesus Christ Superstar was almost certainly contemporaneous, more or less, with the academic years of the principals mentioned in your referenced report, or their parents(essentially, the senior leadership in Washington) . (If not seeing the stage production on major university campuses, a most likely majority of students and faculty owned or heard the 4-side, vinyl LP original soundtrack recording. The lyrics and the "What's the buzz passages" would have been familiar to the majority of college students and faculty, nationwide, during the 1970s. It is quite likely, to a virtually certainty, that the opera was the source most instrumental in bringing that phrase (in limited measure) into the common vernacular today. Before that time, at least within any living remembrance, it was a not-before-heard expression.

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