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jim-dandy

[ jim-dan-dee ]
/ ˈdʒɪmˈdæn di /
Informal.
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adjective
of superior quality; excellent: a jim-dandy sports car.
noun, plural jim-dan·dies.
something of superior quality or that is an excellent example of its kind: The new infirmary is a real jim-dandy.
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Origin of jim-dandy

1875–80; special use of Jim (proper name) + dandy
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

ABOUT THIS WORD

What does jim-dandy mean?

Jim-dandy is an old-timey way to call someone or something great.

It’s most commonly used as an adjective, as in That pie was jim-dandy! But it can also be used as a noun, as in That pie was a jim-dandy! 

The adjective dandy by itself, meaning “excellent” or “first-rate,” is a close synonym.

Jim-dandy is also sometimes spelled jim dandy (without the hyphen).

The origin of the term isn’t known, but it may be based on the title of an 1840s’ minstrel song about a Black character named “Dandy Jim” that contains racist language and stereotypes.

Where does jim-dandy come from?

The first records of jim-dandy come from the late 1800s. There is no definitive evidence, but the term may have originated with “Dandy Jim of Caroline,” a popular minstrel song from around 1843 or 1844. Like many minstrel songs (which were often performed in blackface), it is written in a faux African American dialect and contains racist slurs and stereotypes. The word dandy is recorded earlier, in the 1700s. Its origin is also uncertain, but its original use was as a noun referring to a man overly concerned with his appearance (close synonyms are fop and beau). The Jim in “Dandy Jim of Caroline” is a Black man who’s depicted as handsome and well-dressed in a way that’s intended to be humorous based on the racist notion that fancy dress is too high class for Black people.

The connection between the term jim-dandy and the song isn’t certain, and most people who use it aren’t aware of any potential association. It’s typically used as a somewhat old-fashioned and silly way to say “excellent,” much like mighty fine.

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What are some other forms related to jim-dandy?

  • jim dandy (alternate spelling)

What are some words that share a root or word element with jim-dandy

How to use jim-dandy in a sentence

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