See more synonyms for jig on Thesaurus.com
  1. Machinery. a plate, box, or open frame for holding work and for guiding a machine tool to the work, used especially for locating and spacing drilled holes; fixture.
  2. Angling. any of several devices or lures, especially a hook or gang of hooks weighted with metal and dressed with hair, feathers, etc., for jerking up and down in or drawing through the water to attract fish.
  3. Mining. an apparatus for washing coal or separating ore from gangue by shaking and washing.
  4. a cloth-dyeing machine in which the material, guided by rollers, is passed at full width through a dye solution in an open vat.
verb (used with object), jigged, jig·ging.
  1. to treat, cut, produce, etc., with a jig.
verb (used without object), jigged, jig·ging.
  1. to use a jig.
  2. to fish with a jig.

Origin of jig

1855–60; probably akin to jig2, in sense “jerk to and fro”; orig. and interrelationship of this group of words uncertain


  1. a rapid, lively, springy, irregular dance for one or more persons, usually in triple meter.
  2. a piece of music for or in the rhythm of such a dance.
  3. Obsolete. prank; trick.
verb (used with object), jigged, jig·ging.
  1. to dance (a jig or any lively dance).
  2. to sing or play in the time or rhythm of a jig: to jig a tune.
  3. to move with a jerky or bobbing motion; jerk up and down or to and fro.
verb (used without object), jigged, jig·ging.
  1. to dance or play a jig.
  2. to move with a quick, jerky motion; hop; bob.
  1. in jig time, Informal. with dispatch; rapidly: We sorted the mail in jig time.
  2. the jig is up, Slang. it is hopeless; no chance remains: When the burglar heard the police siren, he knew the jig was up.

Origin of jig

1550–60; in earliest sense “kind of dance” perhaps < Middle French giguer to frolic, gambol, probably < an unattested WGmc verb (cf. gig1); semantic development of other senses unclear
Related formsjig·like, jig·gish, adjective


  1. (formerly used in communications to represent the letter J.)


noun Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive.
  1. a contemptuous term used to refer to a black person.

Origin of jig

1920–25, Americanism; of uncertain origin; cf. jigaboo
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for jig

Contemporary Examples of jig

Historical Examples of jig

  • She pushed Rgina gently aside, and the child went on with her jig.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • Then he succinctly completed his diagnosis: "His jig is up!"

    The Downfall

    Emile Zola

  • "If he's telling the truth, the jig's about up," said Dr. Bird when the Russian had left.

    The Solar Magnet

    Sterner St. Paul Meek

  • Why, big Peter will dance a jig on the kitchen table for joy.

  • There'll be a snatch or so of fiddlin' that he'll like, to cheer him up, and a jig and a song or so.

British Dictionary definitions for jig


  1. any of several old rustic kicking and leaping dances
  2. a piece of music composed for or in the rhythm of this dance, usually in six-eight time
  3. a mechanical device designed to hold and locate a component during machining and to guide the cutting tool
  4. angling any of various spinning lures that wobble when drawn through the water
  5. Also called: jigger mining a device for separating ore or coal from waste material by agitation in water
  6. obsolete a joke or prank
verb jigs, jigging or jigged
  1. to dance (a jig)
  2. to jerk or cause to jerk up and down rapidly
  3. (often foll by up) to fit or be fitted in a jig
  4. (tr) to drill or cut (a workpiece) in a jig
  5. mining to separate ore or coal from waste material using a jig
  6. (intr) to produce or manufacture a jig
  7. Australian slang to play truant from school

Word Origin for jig

C16 (originally: a dance or the music for it; applied to various modern devices because of the verbal sense: to jerk up and down rapidly): 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 jig

"lively dance," 1560s, perhaps related to Middle French giguer "to dance," or to the source of German Geige "violin." Meaning "piece of sport, trick" is 1590s, now mainly in phrase the jig is up (first attested 1777 as the jig is over). As a verb from 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper