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  1. a strenuously acrobatic dance consisting of a few standardized steps augmented by twirls, splits, somersaults, etc., popular especially in the early 1940s and performed chiefly to boogie-woogie and swing.
  2. a person who dances the jitterbug.
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verb (used without object), jit·ter·bugged, jit·ter·bug·ging.
  1. to dance the jitterbug.
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Origin of jitterbug

An Americanism dating back to 1930–35; jitter + bug1
Related formsjit·ter·bug·ger, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for jitterbug


  1. a fast jerky American dance, usually to a jazz accompaniment, that was popular in the 1940s
  2. a person who dances the jitterbug
  3. a highly nervous or excitable person
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verb -bugs, -bugging or -bugged
  1. (intr) to perform such a dance
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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 jitterbug


popular type of fast swing dance, 1938, American English, from "Jitter Bug," title of a song recorded by Cab Calloway in 1934. Probably the literal sense is "one who has the jitters" (see jitters; also cf. bug (n.)). Another sense current about this time was "swing music enthusiast." As a verb from 1938.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper