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[jit-er] /ˈdʒɪt ər/
jitters, nervousness; a feeling of fright or uneasiness (usually preceded by the):
Every time I have to make a speech, I get the jitters.
fluctuations in the image on a television screen or in copy received by facsimile transmission, caused by interference or by momentary failures of synchronization.
verb (used without object)
to behave nervously.
Origin of jitter
1920-25; variant of chitter to shiver (Middle English chiteren), gradational variant of chatter Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for jitters
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The police might tell her she had been seized with a plain case of jitters.

    The Crystal Ball Roy J. Snell
  • Ive had the jitters ever since those fellows got away again.

  • But all this didn't justify a case of jitters in the "basket room."

  • A stiff jolt of elderberry wine drove off the jitters and reasoning returned.

    The Shining Cow Alex James
  • The whole earth had the jitters because of the apparently inevitable trial of strength between its two most gigantic powers.

    Operation Terror William Fitzgerald Jenkins
British Dictionary definitions for jitters


(intransitive) to be anxious or nervous
the jitters, nervousness and anxiety
(electronics) small rapid variations in the amplitude or timing of a waveform arising from fluctuations in the voltage supply, mechanical vibrations, etc
Word Origin
C20: 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
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Word Origin and History for jitters

"extreme nervousness," 1925, American English, perhaps an alteration of dialectal chitter "tremble, shiver," from Middle English chittern "to twitter, chatter."



"to move agitatedly," 1931, American English; see jitters. Related: Jittered; jittering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for jitters



  1. To tremble; quiver: A line of half-washed clothes jittered on a rusty wire (1931+)
  2. To be nervous; be agitated; fret: I jittered around the house, unable to concentrate on anything (1932+)


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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