English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What's the origin of the word 'jive'? I'm partly confused because I thought "to jive" meant "to go well with," like "that approach jives well with me."

Then someone called me a jive turkey. Is that the same "jive"?

Looking at dictionary.com it's defined as "deceptive, exaggerated, or meaningless talk", "to engage in kidding, teasing, or exaggeration," etc. That works for "jive turkey" but not for what I originally thought "jive" meant. I think that meaning exists, though, as evidenced by the all-powerful google.

share|improve this question
i'm going to split off the 'jive slang' part, that seems a separate question – Claudiu Oct 28 '10 at 18:39
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I think the "to go well with" meaning is actually a corruption of jibe a completely different sound alike.

share|improve this answer
oo yes now that I think about it, you're right! jibe is the word i was looking for. interesting that a jibe can also be an insult... any relation? – Claudiu Oct 28 '10 at 17:55
jibe or gibe comes from the Middle French word giber "to handle roughly, shake, deriv. of gibe staff, billhook" the origin of the "in accord" jibe is a bit uncertain, it's an americanism, but I think it probably comes from the sailing word used to describe altering the fore and aft sails to match the wind. The variation of that word gybe is from the Dutch gijben. The confusion is understandable. :) – ghoppe Oct 29 '10 at 0:39

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.