I read:

I would admire the blurb on the book jacket.

How is the word blurb related to book covers?


2 Answers 2


According to the OED it is:

Said to have been originated in 1907 by Gelett Burgess in a comic book jacket embellished with a drawing of a pulchritudinous young lady whom he facetiously dubbed Miss Blinda Blurb. (D.A.) See Mencken Amer. Lang. Suppl. I. 329.

The meaning of blurb is given as:

A brief descriptive paragraph or note of the contents or character of a book, printed as a commendatory advertisement, on the jacket or wrapper of a newly published book. Hence in extended use: a descriptive or commendatory paragraph. Also in combinations.

However, in Britain today, the word blurb is used, in the same derisorily way, but in a wider context to include any, considered superfluous and excessive, paperwork, such as instructions, explanations, commendations etc.

  • 2
    By comparison, I don't think the wider context is used much in American English.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jan 25, 2020 at 10:08
  • I haven't heard the wider context used much in Britain either. I hear "bumph" (or "bumf") more often used to describe excessive paperwork etc. Commented Jan 25, 2020 at 17:57
  • @LaconicDroid "Have you received all the several pages of blurb about the forthcoming conference?" That seems to me more than "a brief descriptive paragraph or note..." - per the OED definition. Or "Did you get any instructional blurb with the new heating controller?" Those seem to me the sorts of ways I might use "blurb".
    – WS2
    Commented Jan 25, 2020 at 20:07
  • @WS2 I can only say that I have never heard "blurb" used in that context or recall seeing it used in writing in such a way. Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 3:59

etymonline.com says Burgess popularized it, but it was originally used a year earlier by Brander Matthews.

used by U.S. scholar Brander Matthews in 1906 in "American Character;" popularized 1907 by U.S. humorist Frank Gelett Burgess. Originally mocking excessive praise printed on book jackets, and probably derisively imitative.

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