There was the following passage in February 25 Washington Post Style section article that came under the headline, “The heights of Hype”:

“Mr. (Neely) Tucker uses historical documents and interviews to make a strong case that the idea of the book as a long-lost sequel is at best a hype job, and at worst a literary deception.

I found no source of the definition of this word in Google Search, but found one example of a sentence using the word, “hype job,” which was the quote from www.boxingnews24.com (2014/09/22):

"By Robert “Big Moe” Elmore: I don't believe no fighter is a hype job regardless of how the media builds them up ... Is he a mixed bag (meaning he can brawl, box, has footwork, has good offense defense, volume puncher etc)."

Google Ngram shows that the word emerged in 1967, and its usage has been plummeting to 0.0000000148% level after peaking at 0.0000000333 in 1991.

What does “hype job” mean? What kind of job is it like?

  • 1
    A "hype job" is simply a situation where the actor delivers a bunch of hype. Where "hype" is exaggeration and window-dressing. Many/most politicians are experts at "hype jobs", as are many TV network commentators. A "publicity agent" for, say, an author is presumably skilled at "hype jobs".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 0:57
  • 1
    Hype job isn't a set phrase; it's hype plus job in the sense of a task or a piece of work that is done. Just as my car's paint job refers to the work and results of painting it, and a hatchet job is a particular slander (metaphorically, as if attacking someone with a hatchet), a hype job is the work someone has done to hype something up.
    – choster
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 0:57
  • 1
    @Hot Licks. It sounds like a cosmetic job to me. Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 8:23

1 Answer 1


As both Hot Licks and choster say (in comments above), a "hype job" is simply a production, promotion, or other undertaking characterized by hype. The emphasis is on hype, and it is an unusual word.

Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003) presents five separate entries for hype, and is noncommittal about the word's origin in all but one of the five cases:

hype n [by shortening and alter. fr. hypodermic] (1924) 1 slang : a narcotics addict 2 slang : HYPODERMIC

hype vt hyped; hyping (1938) 1 : STIMULATE, ENLIVEN‚ usu. used with up {hyping herself up for the game} 2 : INCREASE

hype vt hyped; hyping [origin unknown] (ca. 1931) 1 : PUT ON , DECEIVE 2 : to promote or publicize extravagantly {hyping this fall's TV lineup}

hype n (1955) DECEPTION, PUT-ON 2 : PUBLICITY; esp : promotional publicity of an extravagant or contrived kind {all the hype before the boxing match}

hype adj. (1989) slang : EXCELLENT, COOL

In the early 1970s, when I first encountered hype being used in the sense of promotional buildup, I thought that the term was simply a shortening of hyperbole (which MW traces to the fifteenth century with the meaning "extravagant exaggeration"). But slang dictionaries differ on this point.

From Harold Wentworth and Stuart Flexner, Dictionary of American Slang (1961):

hyped-up adj. Artificial, phony, as though produced by a hypodermic injection of a stimulant. {Citation from 1950 omitted.] See hopped-up [which the dictionary defines as "Under the influence of narcotics; drugged").

Robert Chapman & Barbara Kipfer, Dictionary of American Slang, third edition (1994) has this:

hype 1 v by 1937 To blatantly promote [citations omitted] 2 n Advertising or promotion, esp of a blatant sort [citation omitted] 3 v by 1914 To trick; deceive; originally, to short-change 4 v by 1938 =HYPE UP {origin unknown, perhaps related to hyper, "hustle," of obscure origin, found from the mid-1800s; recent advertising and public relations senses probably influenced by hype [in the sense of "hypodermic needle"] as suggesting supernormal energy, excitement, etc, and by hyper and hyperbole; sense 4 supported by a 1914 glossary: "Hyper, current among money-changer. A flim-flammer"}

In the quotation from the Washington Post, "hype job" carries the idea of being mostly or entirely fluff or hot air emitted for the purpose of ringing up sales for an undeserving book. Interestingly, the word job in this instance refers to the book (in much the same way as the word job in "hatchet job" refers to a hostile review or exposé), and not to the job of producing the "hype job" (or in the corresponding example, the "hatchet job") nor to the person or persons who took on that job.

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