1. A loud confusing noise: could not be heard over the hubbub of the crowd.
2. A confused situation; a tumult: returned to the hubbub of the city after a peaceful weekend in the country. See Synonyms at noise.
[Probably of Irish origin; akin to Irish abb abb abb, an exclamation of defiance or aggression or abú, abó, a war cry.]
Word History: The word hubbub begins to appear in English in the 1500s, at first in the larger phrase Irish hubbub or otherwise in accounts of events in Ireland. It was originally used to describe the shouting of a crowd or the raising of a hue and cry—often it seems with a note of condescension—and the word was frequently applied by English writers of the 1500s and 1600s to war cries or celebratory jubilation of the indigenous peoples of Africa and the Americas. New England colonists, for example, used hubbub as a term for a rambunctious game played by Native Americans. The word hubbub may be from a source in the Irish language such as abb abb abb, an interjection expressing defiance or aggression. Or it may be related to the Irish exclamation abú (also spelled abó) that is added to family names or slogans to make war cries in Irish. A traditional war cry of the O'Neill family, for example, was lámh dhearg abú, "The Red Hand—abu!" (a red hand being a traditional Irish symbol). The further origins of abú, however, are uncertain. Some scholars have proposed that it is a shortening of Irish go búaidh, "until victory." Other scholars, however, believe that the exclamation ultimately originates from the whooping sounds typically made by an excited crowd to express solidarity or urge on a champion—much like the English word whoop itself.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
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