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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.
verb (used without object), jit·ter·bugged, jit·ter·bug·ging.
  1. to dance the jitterbug.

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

Related Words for jitterbug

disco, waltz, rock, samba, tango, tap, skip, jump, shimmy, trip, caper, jig, leap, hop, frolic, sway, cavort, hustle, whirl, strut

Examples from the Web for jitterbug

Contemporary Examples of jitterbug

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
verb -bugs, -bugging or -bugged
  1. (intr) to perform such a dance
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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper