From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bling-bling jewelry

Bling-bling, often shortened to just bling, is "flashy jewelry worn especially as an indication of wealth or status; broadly: expensive and ostentatious possessions"[1] such as grills and designer bags. The term arose as slang, but grew into a cultural mainstay. Prominent examples of bling-bling include a large cross necklace or Jesus piece.[2]

Origins and popularization of the term[edit]

In linguistics terms, bling is either an ideophone or an onomatopoeia, depending on the definition one uses, with bling-bling being its reduplication. Some have attributed the term to rappers that came before B.G., or to the old cartoonish sound effects meant to convey the desirability and or shininess of gold, gems, jewels, money, and more.[3]

The use of the phrase became popular, as seen in the skywriting advertisement over this New York summer resort destination of Southampton in 2006.

Bling became increasingly entrenched within the hip hop movement following B.G.'s release of his lead single "Bling Bling" off of his 1999 album Chopper City in the Ghetto.[citation needed]

Mass usage[edit]

The word was added to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary in 2002, and to the Merriam Webster dictionary in 2006. Companies such as Sprint and Cadillac have used the word bling in their advertisements, for instance. On the other hand, in 2004, MTV released a satirical cartoon showing the term first being used by a rapper, followed by several progressively less "streetwise" characters, concluding with a middle-aged white woman describing her "bling" to her elderly mother.[4][5]

The term was subsequently used for anyone displaying a luxurious and ostentatious lifestyle.[6][7][8]

In other languages[edit]

The term has spread to Spanish speaking countries around the world, with Latin hip-hop and reggaeton artists from places like Puerto Rico and Panama. The main nuance is that, in Spanish, it is often stylized and pronounced as "blin-blin".[9] Furthermore, the Spanish word blinblineo also refers to bling and its style. Similarly, in French, "bling" traditionally describes nouveau riche attitudes; such as "wearing expensive suits, stylish sunglasses and conspicuously large wristwatches" or anything that is ostentatious and can be considered of "poor taste".[10] In German, it is usually used as simply "Bling".[citation needed]

Criticism and response[edit]

The short film Bling: Consequences and Repercussions explains the troubled backstory of many of the diamonds jewelers often use to make the gaudy jewelry. Explicitly, the film takes issue with the fact that, occasionally, the diamonds were originally blood diamonds, that fuel wars, poverty, slavery, and killings across countries in Africa.[11] Similarly, Bling: A Planet Rock (2007) documents and subsequently contrasts the flashy world of commercial hip-hop jewelry against the significant role diamonds play in the ten-year civil war in Sierra Leone.

From a different perspective, many people consider bling and its aesthetic as empowering, rather than literally and metaphorically likening the expensive chains to slavery.[12][13]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Definition of BLING". Retrieved 2020-04-08.
  2. ^ Oh, Minya; Mao, Andrea Duncan (10 August 2005). Bling Bling: Hip Hop's Crown Jewels. Wenner Books. ISBN 978-1-932958-02-7.
  3. ^ Renee Tawa (July 9, 2003). "'Bling-bling' in the Oxford dictionary? That's phat". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ "MTV: Bling Bling - Advertisement". MTV. Creativity Online. July 13, 2004. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  5. ^ "15 Most Expensive Gold Chains In Hip Hop". Hatton Jewellers Blog. December 3, 2019. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  6. ^ Jason Moyo (April 4, 2012). "Preaching the gospel of bling". Mail & Guardian. South Africa/
  7. ^ Kate Bowler (October 9, 2013). "Believers in bling: Behold, the prosperity 'Preachers of L.A.'" Archived 2020-09-28 at the Wayback Machine. CNN.
  8. ^ "De choses et d'autres - Cachez ce bling-bling!". L'Indépendant. (May 14, 2020).
  9. ^ "Blin blin". Diccionario Libre. Retrieved 2011-08-15.
  10. ^ Crumley, Bruce (2007-12-20). "Sarkozy's 'Bling-Bling' Presidency". Time. Retrieved 2020-04-25.
  11. ^ Edouard, Kareem (2009-03-02). "Bling: Consequences and Repercussions". Archived from the original on 2009-03-02. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  12. ^ Thompson, Krista. Shine. p. 51.
  13. ^ Thompson, Krista. Shine. p. 100.