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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.
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verb (used with object), jigged, jig·ging.
  1. to treat, cut, produce, etc., with a jig.
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verb (used without object), jigged, jig·ging.
  1. to use a jig.
  2. to fish with a jig.
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Origin of jig1

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.
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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.
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verb (used without object), jigged, jig·ging.
  1. to dance or play a jig.
  2. to move with a quick, jerky motion; hop; bob.
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  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.
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Origin of jig2

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

Related Words

shimmy, wiggle, twitch, fidget, jig, jigger, jerk, jog, agitate, shimmer, shake, bob, vellicate, joggle

Examples from the Web for jigging

Historical Examples

  • The whole thing's like a concertina, and some one jigging it!

    The Eldest Son (Second Series Plays)

    John Galsworthy

  • Aboard the Charming Lass the squid “jigging” went on for a couple of hours.

    The Harbor of Doubt

    Frank Williams

  • The weight furnished with hooks, used in jigging (which see).

    The Sailor's Word-Book

    William Henry Smyth

  • It is too cruel to tag her round after me, jigging this way and that like the skiff there in our wake.


    S. R. Crockett

  • And now there were only three jigging round to the endless tune.

    Twos and Threes

    G. B. Stern

British Dictionary definitions for jigging


  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
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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
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Word Origin

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 jigging



"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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper