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noun Nautical.
  1. any of various triangular sails set forward of a forestaysail or fore-topmast staysail.Compare flying jib, inner jib.
  2. the inner one of two such sails, set inward from a flying jib.
  1. of or relating to a jib: jib clew.
  1. cut of one's jib, one's general appearance, mien, or manner: I could tell by the cut of his jib that he wasn't the kind of person I'd want to deal with.

Origin of jib1

First recorded in 1655–65; origin uncertain
Can be confusedgibe gybe jib jibe jive


or jibb

verb (used with or without object), jibbed, jib·bing, noun
  1. jibe1.


[jib]Chiefly British
verb (used without object), jibbed, jib·bing.
  1. to move restively sidewise or backward instead of forward, as an animal in harness; balk.
  2. to balk at doing something; defer action; procrastinate.
  1. a horse or other animal that jibs.

Origin of jib3

First recorded in 1805–15; perhaps special use of jib2
Related formsjib·ber, noun


  1. the projecting arm of a crane.
  2. the boom of a derrick.

Origin of jib4

First recorded in 1755–65; apparently short for gibbet


or gibe, gybe, jib, jibb

verb (used without object), jibed, jib·ing.
  1. to shift from one side to the other when running before the wind, as a fore-and-aft sail or its boom.
  2. to alter course so that a fore-and-aft sail shifts in this manner.
verb (used with object), jibed, jib·ing.
  1. to cause to jibe.
  1. the act of jibing.

Origin of jibe1

1685–95; variant of gybe < Dutch gijben, more commonly gijpen
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for jib

Historical Examples

  • I have seen that girl on the deck, and I like the cut of her jib.

    A Woman Intervenes

    Robert Barr

  • For instance, there is the jib halyard and the foresail halyard.

    Boys' Book of Model Boats

    Raymond Francis Yates

  • At the end of that mile Jonadab's craft's jib boom was just astern of Tobias's rudder.

    The Depot Master

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • If we can h'ist the jib we can get some steerage way on her, maybe.

    The Woman-Haters

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Keep the topsails loose and the jib ready for setting, I may want the sails in a hurry.

    The Rescue

    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for jib


  1. nautical any triangular sail set forward of the foremast of a vessel
  2. cut of someone's jib someone's manner, behaviour, style, etc
  3. obsolete
    1. the lower lip, usually when it protrudes forwards in a grimace
    2. the face or nose

Word Origin

C17: of unknown origin


verb jibs, jibbing or jibbed (intr) mainly British
  1. (often foll by at) to be reluctant (to); hold back (from); balk (at)
  2. (of an animal) to stop short and refuse to go forwardsthe horse jibbed at the jump
  3. nautical variant of gybe
Derived Formsjibber, noun

Word Origin

C19: of unknown origin


  1. the projecting arm of a crane or the boom of a derrick, esp one that is pivoted to enable it to be raised or lowered

Word Origin

C18: probably based on gibbet


  1. (often plural) South Wales dialect a contortion of the face; a facestop making jibs

Word Origin

special use of jib 1 (in the sense: lower lip, face)


jib or jibb (dʒɪb)

verb, noun
  1. nautical variants of gybe


  1. a variant spelling of gibe 1
Derived Formsjiber, nounjibingly, adverb


  1. (intr) informal to agree; accord; harmonize

Word Origin

C19: of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for jib


"foresail of a ship," 1660s, gibb, of uncertain origin, perhaps related to gibbet, from notion of a sail "hanging" from a masthead [Barnhart, OED]. Or perhaps from jib (v.) "shift a sail or boom" (1690s), from Dutch gijben, apparently related to gijk "boom or spar of a sailing ship." Said to indicate a ship's character to an observant sailor as a strange vessel approaches at sea; also nautical slang for "face," hence cut of (one's) jib "personal appearance" (1821).



"agree, fit," 1813, of unknown origin, perhaps a figurative extension of earlier jib, gybe (v.) "shift a sail or boom" (see jib). OED, however, suggests a phonetic variant of chime, as if meaning "to chime in with, to be in harmony." Related: Jibed; jibes; jibing.



1560s, perhaps from Middle French giber "to handle roughly," or an alteration of gaber "to mock."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with jib


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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