Blowing Smoke: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
December 24, 2023

"Blowing smoke" can mean expelling smoke from the mouth, like when someone breathes out after taking a puff from a cigarette. But more often, people use it to talk about someone misleading others by exaggerating or lying. It paints a picture of someone trying to cloud someone else's understanding with a haze of untruths.

In short:

  • It can mean puffing out smoke from the mouth.
  • It also means trying to trick someone with false or exaggerated words.

What Does "Blowing Smoke" Mean?

The phrase "blowing smoke" has a dual meaning. It can refer to the physical act of exhaling smoke or, figuratively, deceiving someone with false information.

Here are the key points about this phrase:

  • "Blowing smoke" can mean exhaling smoke, like when someone smokes a cigarette and breathes out.
  • This phrase is also used to describe someone who is not telling the truth or is trying to make things seem better than they really are.
  • It's like they're trying to cloud your judgment with smoke.
  • For example, if someone says, "He's just blowing smoke to get a promotion," it means that they are exaggerating or lying to get ahead at work.
  • It's often used to express doubt about someone's honesty or sincerity. You might hear, "I think she's just blowing smoke," suggesting she might not be genuine in her words or intentions.
  • Synonyms for "blowing smoke" in the deceptive sense include "talking nonsense," "making things up," and "pulling one's leg."

Where Does "Blowing Smoke" Come From?

The phrase “blowing smoke” has a rich history that dates back to the 18th century. Its origins can be traced back to the old magicians’ tricking style, where they would release smoke to conceal the minor tricks they performed to prove their magic. In this context, a person who tries to cheat someone and cover up their acts by appearing simple and humble is said to be “blowing smoke” in front of you.

10 Examples of "Blowing Smoke" in Sentences

To help you understand how to use this phrase, let's look at some examples from different situations:

  • People keep blowing smoke, saying there's nothing much to worry about.
  • She felt the salesman was blowing smoke when he said the car had never been in an accident.
  • When asked about his grades, he started blowing smoke to avoid the real topic.
  • In this competitive field, you'll need to toughen up; many are just blowing smoke.
  • They claimed their product was the best, but many customers felt they were blowing smoke.
  • After smoking a cigar, he enjoyed blowing smoke rings in the air.
  • She promised to introduce me to industry experts, but was she just blowing smoke to set me up?
  • During the magic trick, the magician was blowing smoke to distract the audience.
  • Every election season, many politicians are accused of blowing smoke to get votes.
  • I thought he was just blowing smoke when he said the temperature outside was as hot as Hades.

Examples of "Blowing Smoke" in Pop Culture

This phrase is also heard in movies, songs, and TV shows, usually when someone is trying to mislead or impress.

Check out these examples:

  • The TV movie "Blowing Smoke" (2004) explores what guys say when they are "blowing smoke," delving into the fraternal brotherhood that bonds all cigar smokers.
  • The song "Blowing Smoke" by Home Brew contains the lyrics: "Blowing smoke out my window / Going home / Going home / Blowing smoke."
  • In the TV show "Mad Men," Season 4 Episode 12 titled "Blowing Smoke," characters engage in complex interactions, with one accusing another of being impatient and childish, leading to a tantrum on a full page in the newspaper.
  • An article titled "Harmful Industry Blowing Smoke on Human Rights" on Global Issues discusses the impact of certain industries on human rights, highlighting the challenges and controversies surrounding these sectors.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "Blowing Smoke"

If you're looking for other ways to express the same idea, here are some:

  • Talking hot air
  • Just for show
  • Making things up
  • Pretending
  • Putting on airs
  • Faking it
  • Being insincere
  • Exaggerating
  • Playing pretend
  • Being dishonest

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Blowing Smoke":

  • What does "blowing smoke" mean?

"Blowing smoke" has two meanings. Literally, it refers to the act of exhaling smoke, like from a cigarette. Figuratively, it means to deceive or to talk without saying anything of value, often to impress or mislead someone.

  • How can I use "blowing smoke" in a sentence?

You can use it to describe someone who's not being honest or just talking for the sake of talking. For example: "I don't think he knows what he's talking about; he's just blowing smoke." Or, "After smoking, she enjoyed blowing smoke rings.

  • Where did this phrase come from?

The exact origins are unclear, but the figurative sense likely comes from the idea that smoke can cloud or obscure vision, making things unclear, just like misleading talk.

  • Is "blowing smoke" considered rude?

Using the phrase to describe someone can be seen as negative since it suggests they're not being truthful or valuable in their words. Context is key.

  • Can it be used in professional settings?

It's best to be cautious using "blowing smoke" in professional settings. It might come off as informal or critical, depending on the context.

  • Is it common in everyday language?

Yes, "blowing smoke" is a common idiom in English, especially when discussing someone's credibility or the value of their words.

  • Are there any related idioms or phrases?

Yes, "smoke and mirrors" is another idiom that means to deceive or mislead someone, often by making something seem more impressive than it really is.

  • Can "blowing smoke" mean giving compliments?

It can, but usually in the sense that the compliments are insincere or exaggerated, rather than genuine praise.

  • How can I tell if someone is "blowing smoke" or being genuine?

It can be hard to tell. Listening carefully, asking questions, and considering the context and the person's past behavior can give you clues.

  • Is "blowing smoke" a modern term?

While the act of smoking has been around for centuries, the figurative use of "blowing smoke" to mean deceiving or talking without substance became popular in the 20th century.

Final Thoughts About "Blowing Smoke"

The phrase "blowing smoke" is an interesting part of the English language, showing how words can have both literal and figurative meanings. It's a reminder always to seek clarity and truth, especially when words might be used to cloud or confuse.

Here's a quick recap:

  • The phrase has both literal and figurative meanings.
  • It's useful to know, especially when discussing someone's honesty or the value of their words.
  • Always consider the context and the person's past behavior when determining if they're "blowing smoke."
  • Being aware of such phrases can help understand and navigate conversations more effectively.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

U.S Dictionary is the premier dictionary about the English language as used in the United States of America.
Copyright © 2024 - U.S. Dictionary
Privacy Policy