Blowing a Raspberry or Bronx Cheer – Origin & Meaning

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

Various phrases and terms derived from cultures and languages add a colorful flair to speech and text. The only problem is they aren’t always easily understood by those unfamiliar with the country or language in which they originated.

For example, did you know that to blow a raspberry or raise a Bronx cheer means the same thing? Well, neither did I.

Learn about where these terms came from, what they mean, and how to use them in a modern setting.

Blowing a Raspberry or Bronx Cheer: What’s the Difference?

Blowing a Raspberry or Bronx Cheer Origin Meaning

The meaning behind blowing a raspberry is to create a rude noise formed by sticking one’s tongue between one’s lips and blowing, producing a sound similar to flatulence. This sound is usually directed towards someone or something as a sign of disrespect, harassment, or occasionally in a lighthearted manner, to tease purposely.

For example:

  • She stood on the podium and fought the urge to blow a raspberry at her opponent, who had recently insisted she would never place in her event.
  • I spent the evening drying the tears of my kindergartener, who had her feelings hurt when her classmate blew a raspberry at her after school.
  • She teasingly blew a raspberry in her children’s direction when they realized she was heading to get ice cream without them.

A Bronx cheer is named for a borough of New York, the Bronx, and presumably the inhabitants’ propensity to employ their tongues to express derisive feelings when a sports team does not perform up to par.

For example:

  • The losing team drew a Bronx cheer from the crowd, who couldn’t help but show their disappointment at the loss.
  • The visiting audience raised a Bronx cheer, drawing looks of confusion from the hometown crowd.

Blowing a raspberry, also called razzberry leading to the expression “to razz somebody,” is the older term originating in England. It is a familiar expression in all English-speaking countries, while a Bronx cheer is purely American and only well-known throughout the New England States.

Origins of Blowing a Raspberry

Blow a Raspberry Ngram
Blow a raspberry usage trend.

The term blow a raspberry appeared in the late 1800s as a shortened version of the British Cockney rhyming slang involving the phrase raspberry tart.

Cockney English is the English spoken by lower-class Londoners, and it is decidedly marked by a rhyming slang way of speech. The pattern of slang takes a word or phrase, a phrase that rhymes with it, and then the last word of the phrase is dropped. For example, money becomes bread and honey and then just bread.

Fart becomes raspberry tart and then just raspberry. So if you were wondering why it is called blowing raspberries, it means you are actually farting in the general direction of your action.

Origins of a Bronx Cheer

Bronx Cheer Ngram
Bronx cheer usage trend.

The Bronx cheer was coined as the phrase to describe the rude noise made by the crowd to highlight their dismay towards a losing home team or to mock an opposing team.

The term was first used in 1921 in the Bridgeport Telegram newspaper by Damon Runyon to describe the reaction of a crowd at a football game between Princeton and Stagg’s universities:

“…if Chicago lose the east will grin and give western football the jolly old Bronx cheer.”

Let’s Review

Blowing a raspberry is the older version of the rude sound made by sticking out your tongue and blowing. It originated in London as a slang term to mean blowing a fart in the direction of the person you express yourself in.

The Bronx cheer means the same thing but originated in early 20th-century America with New York sports fans. It became a popular reference in the local newspapers and is still commonly used throughout the New England states.