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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for jig is up


  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 is up



"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

Idioms and Phrases with jig is up

jig is up

see game is up.

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