just so, neat and tidy; carefully arranged: My mother-in-law is very fussy; everything has to be placed just so.

Origin of just

1325–75; Middle English < Latin jūstus righteous, equivalent to jūs law, right + -tus adj. suffix
Can be confusedgist jest just

Synonyms for just

Antonyms for just

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for just so


adjective (dʒʌst)

  1. fair or impartial in action or judgment
  2. (as collective noun; preceded by the)the just
conforming to high moral standards; honest
consistent with justicea just action
rightly applied or given; deserveda just reward
legally valid; lawfula just inheritance
well-founded; reasonablejust criticism
correct, accurate, or truea just account

adverb (dʒʌst, unstressed dʒəst)

used with forms of have to indicate an action performed in the very recent pastI have just closed the door
at this very instanthe's just coming in to land
no more than; merely; onlyjust an ordinary car
exactly; preciselythat's just what I mean
by a small margin; barelyhe just got there in time
(intensifier)it's just wonderful to see you
informal indeed; with a vengeanceisn't it just
just about
  1. at the point of starting (to do something)
  2. very nearly; almostI've just about had enough
just a moment, just a second or just a minute an expression requesting the hearer to wait or pause for a brief period of time
just now
  1. a very short time ago
  2. at this moment
  3. Southern African informalin a little while
just on having reached exactlyit's just on five o'clock
just so
  1. an expression of complete agreement or of unwillingness to dissent
  2. arranged with precision
Derived Formsjustly, adverbjustness, noun

Word Origin for just

C14: from Latin jūstus righteous, from jūs justice


The use of just with exactly (it's just exactly what they want) is redundant and should be avoided: it's exactly what they want
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 just so



"merely, barely," 1660s, from Middle English sense of "exactly, precisely, punctually" (c.1400), from just (adj.), and paralleling the adverbial use of French juste. Just-so story first attested 1902 in Kipling, from the expression just so "exactly that, in that very way" (1751).



late 14c., "righteous in the eyes of God; upright, equitable, impartial; justifiable, reasonable," from Old French juste "just, righteous; sincere" (12c.), from Latin iustus "upright, equitable," from ius "right," especially "legal right, law," from Old Latin ious, perhaps literally "sacred formula," a word peculiar to Latin (not general Italic) that originated in the religious cults, from PIE root *yewes- "law" (cf. Avestan yaozda- "make ritually pure;" see jurist). The more mundane Latin law-word lex covered specific laws as opposed to the body of laws. The noun meaning "righteous person or persons" is from late 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with just so

just so


Precisely in that way, very carefully and appropriately, as in The children had to be dressed just so for their aunt's wedding. [Mid-1700s]


I agree, that is correct, as in The house was a mess.—Just so; I told her to clean the place up. [Mid-1700s]


See just as, def. 2.


See as long as, def. 3.


In addition to the idioms beginning with just

  • just about
  • just a minute
  • just as
  • just as soon
  • just deserts
  • just folks
  • just for the record
  • just in case
  • just in time
  • just like that
  • just now
  • just one of those things
  • just so
  • just the same
  • just the ticket
  • just what the doctor ordered

also see:

  • all (just) the same
  • get it (you just don't)
  • take it (just so much)

Also see underjustice.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.