n. Expensive or gaudy jewelry worn in excessive amounts; a flashy or tasteless display of wealth.
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A reader named Mark from Santa Clara e-mailed to say, ''I used to embrace hip-hop music. I still like some of it, but all in all, it has managed to lose my attention, mostly because of the bling.''

I want to respond to these popular misconceptions.

Yes, a number of hip-hop hits do celebrate being rich and having an abundance of the things money can buy, but it's important to see these songs in their wider context.

Hip-hoppers didn't invent the glorification of materialism.

Many of today's popular TV shows, from ''Entertainment Tonight'' and ''Access Hollywood'' to practically anything on the E Channel, suggest we've become a bling-bling society. TV specials showcase the opulence of our favorite entertainers — Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith, etc. Newscasts report the price of diamonds and other jewelry worn by stars at popular award shows.
—Davey D, “Fixation on bling-bling isn't limited to hip-hop,” San Jose Mercury News, August 08, 2003
In circles where these things matter, there's some debate around the question of who exactly coined the term. Most point the finger at a gentleman by the name of Baby Gangsta, who plies his trade with a group called Cash Money Millionaires. There was no sign of Mr Gangsta in the Fianna Fail tent this week, but the rest of his outfit were all present and correct. In true bling-bling style, conspicuous, pointless expenditure was the order of the day. What other reason could there possibly be for dropping several grand on a plate of "honey-glazed lamb with a smoked bacon stuffing"?
—High Linehan, “Bling-bling Bertie,” The Irish Times, August 02, 2003
1999 (earliest)
Niggaz wear shades just to stand on side of me
Folks say take that chain off boy ya blindin me
All day my phone ringin bling bling bling
Can see my earring from a mile bling bling
—B.G., “Bling bling,” Universal Records, April 20, 1999
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