May 6, 2015

Does jibe/jive jibe/jive with your sense of spelling?

In the first post of today, there's a quote about a white supremacist troll who "listed examples that appeared to jive with the sample of angry responses."

In the comments, Tom B said,  "JIBE not JIVE you f*%#ing @&*%! aaaaaaaaaaah," and The Godfather said "Thanks, Tom B: You screamed so I don't have to," and holdfast said: "That's ok, I speak Jive"... which is that flies above all controversy.

But for the last word...
I go to the (unlinkable) Oxford English Dictionary, where I'm told that "jibe" — "Origin obscure: perhaps phonetically related to chime" — means "To chime in (with); to be in harmony or accord; to agree." Example:
1855   ‘Q. K. P. Doesticks’ Doesticks, what he Says xiv. 113,   I attempting to sing the words of ‘Old Hundred’, while the lady played the Jenny Lind polka, which didn't seem to jibe....

1894   Nation (N.Y.) 59 311/1   The dislike..of Trilby's posing for the ‘altogether’, doesn't jibe with the author's authoritative declaration that to all artists..‘nothing is so chaste as nudity’.
Now, "jive" (the verb) — "slang (orig. U.S.)" — has the first meaning: "To mislead, to deceive, to ‘kid’; to taunt or sneer at. Also intr., to talk jive, to talk nonsense, to act foolishly." And the oldest usage of it is found in the record title "Don't Jive Me," by Louis Armstrong (in 1928). Then there's this:
1944   D. Burley Orig. Handbk. Harlem Jive 71   Jive is a distortion of that staid, old respectable English word ‘jibe’... In the sense in which it came into use among Negroes in Chicago about the year 1921, it meant to taunt, to scoff, to sneer.
So jibe/jive are essentially the same word... at least when they mean to taunt or scoff? Yes, and there is more. The second meaning is "To make sense; to fit in. U.S. Cf. jibe v." So in the U.S., "jive" is just another way to spell "jibe," meaning to agree! Examples:
1943   Amer. Speech 18 153/2   Doesn't jive, doesn't make sense.
1955   W. Gaddis Recognitions ii. i. 308   His analyst says he's in love with her for all the neurotic reasons in the book. It don't jive, man.
1973   To our Returned Prisoners of War (Office of U.S. Secretary of Defense) 7   Jive, verb meaning fit in, go with, to make sense.
So... jibe/jive jives and jibes with whatever you need it to jibe and jive with, and Tom B — is that you, Tom Barrett? — and The Godfather need to relax.  Here's some music to relax by:

30 comments:

Meade said...

Nobody lobes me, but my mother
And she could me jibin' too


The Drill SGT said...

Jibe is a sailing term for letting your ass hang out in the wind. Or more formally:

A jibe (US) or gybe (Britain) is a sailing maneuver whereby a sailing vessel reaching downwind turns its stern through the wind, such that the wind direction changes from one side of the boat to the other. For square-rigged ships, this maneuver is called wearing ship.

etbass said...

ho hum

Anonymous said...

Then there are words with positive/negative connotations, depending on context:

trade sanctions
sanctioning abortion
speeding citation
citation for bravery
it's a moot point
the issue is now moot
garnish wages
garnish with parsley

TCR James said...

All this talk of the secondary patois usage of jibes is wearing on me and I'd rather the discussion took a different tack.

Sharc said...

The facts that jive is a recognized corruption of the original, has been used in a couple books by people considered to be literate, and is generally misunderstood by the public-at-large don't make it acceptable.

MadisonMan said...

Hysterical.

Ann Althouse said...

William Gaddis is an extremely high-class reference.

"The Recognitions." I actually read that thing back in the days when I thought it was important and valuable and practically a duty to read all the highly regarded literary novels.

Ann Althouse said...

"The facts that jive is a recognized corruption of the original, has been used in a couple books by people considered to be literate, and is generally misunderstood by the public-at-large don't make it acceptable."

The thing is, when you take on the role of correcting what other people are writing, you are asking for a strict standard to be applied to you.

If you're going to go so far as to say "JIBE not JIVE you f*%#ing @&*%! aaaaaaaaaaah," you're in no position to claim that the OED isn't good enough authority.

TCR James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhhardin said...

b and v are both labials and so give hidden alliteration

"Blue, glossy green, and velvet black"

- Ancient Mariner

TCR James said...

@The Drill Sergeant - "wearing" is a great but confusing term because a sailor has to look upwards first to know what it means.

On a square rigged ship - old sailing ships and a few modern, smaller boats that are square rigged, sails running left-to-right across the vessel, wearing means to jibe. Running down wind with the wind on the right rear of the boat, wearing would equate to a 90 degree turn left.

On a modern sailboat - with sails that run fore/aft - wearing means to tack around through the wind. In the same wind and course, it would mean turning right 270 degrees, until arriving on the new course. Wearing is done to save wear and tear on the rig in heavy weather. Wearing is actually less wearing on the boat. Some call it a chicken jibe.

So wearing means precisely one thing, or its exact opposite, depending. And in one context it means exactly the opposite of its plain language meaning.

This is why people buy powerboats.

Bill said...

Barbara Billingsley jibing with jive

Tom B said...

I am no authority. I'm not even Tom Barrett! However, if someone wanted to cite the OED to me in defense of their using 'jive' in place of 'jibe' I would counter with the American Heritage definition which has a big ol' "(Usage problem)" right before the 'to be in accord' entry. I will never accept 'jive' for 'jibe', ever; not for this sense of the word. The folks who say 'jive' instead of 'jibe' are the same sort of people who tend to say 'impact' when they mean 'affect'. CASE CLOSED.

PS - thank you for posting the Louis Armstrong song; the title of which, I note, uses 'jive' correctly.

Char Char Binks said...

I'm not too fond of people saying "CASE CLOSED" when they mean "shut up". Other than that, Tom, my thoughts and yours on this completely jibe.

Paddy O said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paddy O said...

"cite the OED to me in defense of their using 'jive' in place of 'jibe' I would counter with the American Heritage definition"

This reminded me of Twain's "Concerning the American Language"

jr565 said...

Stewardess I speak Jive.

jr565 said...

Lady: He said that he's in great pain and he wants to know if you can help him.

Randy: All right. Would you tell him to just relax and I'll be back as soon as I can with some medicine?

Lady: [to the Second Jive Dude 2] Jus' hang loose, blood. She gonna catch ya up on da rebound on da med side.

Jive dude 2: What it is, big mama? My mama no raise no dummies. I dug her rap!

Jive Lady: Cut me some slack, Jack! Chump don' want no help, chump don't GET da help!

Jive Dude 1: Say 'e can't hang, say seven up!

Lady: Jive-ass dude don't got no brains anyhow! Shiiiiit.

Quaestor said...

I once used jive for jibe in an essay written for an Aesthetics course taught by Tom Regan (the animal rights guru) and got pointedly corrected. Since then I have maintained these words as distinct and separate. Now I get the opposite guidance from Althouse, who to her credit cites supporting sources. When my head stops spinning I hope it's to the front once more.

Mary Beth said...

The folks who say 'jive' instead of 'jibe' are the same sort of people who tend to say 'impact' when they mean 'affect'.

Or they're not sure what they mean.

I figured "impact" became popular because so many people can't remember if it's supposed to be "affect" or "effect".

The Godfather said...

Thanks again, Tom B. You're right again and faster at it than I am. Our opinions jibe.

@Althouse, don't give me that unlinkable jive!

Rusty said...

The Drill SGT said...
Jibe is a sailing term for letting your ass hang out in the wind. Or more formally:

A jibe (US) or gybe (Britain) is a sailing maneuver whereby a sailing vessel reaching downwind turns its stern through the wind, such that the wind direction changes from one side of the boat to the other. For square-rigged ships, this maneuver is called wearing ship.


And the reason, on cat rigged boats, the boom whacks you in the head. When the helmsman yells "Jibe!" no matter what you're doing, duck.

jimbino said...

What about "home in on" versus "Hone in on" or "tack" versus "tact" or "hanged" vs "hung"?

The Drill SGT said...

Rusty said...
And the reason, on cat rigged boats, the boom whacks you in the head. When the helmsman yells "Jibe!" no matter what you're doing, duck.


all boats..

The difference between 'planned jibes' and 'ah $hit jibes'

I used to sail Shields class (30' keel boats) boats offshore when I was in Grad school...

Sharc said...

If you're going to go so far as to say "JIBE not JIVE you f*%#ing @&*%! aaaaaaaaaaah," you're in no position to claim that the OED isn't good enough authority.

The section of the OED cited doesn't really condone the usage -- it just recognizes that it exists. The editors still sniff that using them interchangeably amounts to a "slang" "distortion." It's to be avoided.

Carl said...

you're in no position to claim that the OED isn't good enough authority.

I don't think he's quibbling with the OED as an authority. I think he's suggesting you've misinterpreted the OED. As a law professor, that type of argument should be rather familiar.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

one off: a singular occurrence, as in "one off a kind"

hone in on: to approach a desired or familiar destination or condition, e.g. "a honing pigeon"

Rusty said...


I used to sail Shields class (30' keel boats) boats offshore when I was in Grad school...

16 foot Rebel class open cockpit day sailers. On Lake Opeka in Des Plaines. I'm a long standing member of the ancient and prestigeous Des Plaines Yacht Club.

mikee said...

Gybe and gimbal o'er the wabe.

It was in my 55th year of life that I learned this, and the rest of Jabberwocky, actually isn't gibberish.