puff piece

a news media report


puff piece = eine Geschichte, ein Nachrichtenbericht usw., der jemanden oder etwas zu sehr lobt; Lobeshymne, Loblied, Preislied



“When the top Trump aide Kellyanne Conway was featured in a CNN series on ‘Badass Women of Washington’ last month, the article was slammed by critics as a ‘PUFF PIECE’.“

Ben Zimmer - The Wall Street Journal (24 April 2019)

“PUFF PIECE – How Philip Morris Set Vaping Alight (and burned down the English language).”

Martin McKenzie-Murray - Headline in The Guardian (18 Sep 2021)

Did you

puff piece
noun phrase (chiefly US, informal + disapproving)

- a story, news report, etc., that praises someone or something too much

- an article or story of exaggerating praise that often ignores or downplays opposing viewpoints or evidence to the contrary

Merriam-Webster / Your Dictionary


“Puffery” meaning “flattery, exaggerated praise”, is attested from 1782.

“Puff” from 1560s in the figurative sense of “empty or vain boast” stems from the Old English pyffan “to blow with the mouth, to blow with quick, intermittent blasts” (early 14c.), “to pant, breathe hard and fast” is from the late 14c.


An 1881 Italian ad for Cannabis indica cigarillos, promised to “stop the most violent attacks of asthma, nervous cough, colds, extinction of voice, facial neuralgia and insomnia, and to combat all laryngeal and respiratory ailments.”


Nowadays, “puff pieces” purport to provide a review of a product or event, but instead they merely use so-called "peacock words" to inflate the message: “an amazing recording”, “probably one of the most important albums of the 20th century”, “perhaps one of the leading bands of the 2010s”; and tabloid-style fillers which are irrelevant to assessing the qualities of the product or event: “During the filming, there were rumours that romantic sparks flew between the two co-leads, who were often seen talking together on the set”.


- an extreme exaggeration or overstatement:

aggrandisement, amplification, baloney, big talk, blowing up, blowing up out of all proportion, boasting, build-up, dramatisation, elaboration, embellishment, embroidering, embroidery, enhancement, enlargement, exaggeration, exaltation, extravagance, fabrication, falsehood, fancy, fantasy, figure of speech, fish story, flight of fancy, gilding the lily, heightening, hogwash, hype, hyperbole, laying it on thick, magnification, making a big thing out of something, misrepresentation, mountain out of molehill, ornamentation, over-elaboration, over-embellishment, over-emphasis, overdramatisation, overemphasis, overkill, overplaying, overstatement, overvaluation, padding, pretension, pretentiousness, PUFFERY, purple prose, rant, spinning of a yarn, stretching of the truth, tall story, tall talk, whopper

SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“Readers these days are becoming increasingly sceptical about PUFF PIECES in the media.”

THANKS to Uli for suggesting today’s phrase.

HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations at:



Paul Smith, IBAN: DE75 7316 0000 0002 5477 40

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