jitters, nervousness; a feeling of fright or uneasiness (usually preceded by the): Every time I have to make a speech, I get the jitters.
fluctuations in the image on a television screen or in copy received by facsimile transmission, caused by interference or by momentary failures of synchronization.

verb (used without object)

to behave nervously.

Origin of jitter

1920–25; variant of chitter to shiver (Middle English chiteren), gradational variant of chatter
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for jitters

Contemporary Examples of jitters

Historical Examples of jitters

  • The police might tell her she had been seized with a plain case of jitters.

    The Crystal Ball

    Roy J. Snell

  • Ive had the jitters ever since those fellows got away again.

  • But all this didn't justify a case of jitters in the "basket room."

  • A stiff jolt of elderberry wine drove off the jitters and reasoning returned.

    The Shining Cow

    Alex James

  • The whole earth had the jitters because of the apparently inevitable trial of strength between its two most gigantic powers.

    Operation Terror

    William Fitzgerald Jenkins

British Dictionary definitions for jitters



(intr) to be anxious or nervous


the jitters nervousness and anxiety
electronics small rapid variations in the amplitude or timing of a waveform arising from fluctuations in the voltage supply, mechanical vibrations, etc

Word Origin for jitter

C20: 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 jitters

"extreme nervousness," 1925, American English, perhaps an alteration of dialectal chitter "tremble, shiver," from Middle English chittern "to twitter, chatter."



"to move agitatedly," 1931, American English; see jitters. Related: Jittered; jittering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper