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Heebie-jeebies

Heebie-jeebies is an American term that is easily traceable to its source in the early twentieth century. It is a reduplicated phrase, which is a phrase in which part of the root word is repeated in another word. Heebie-jeebies is a rhyming reduplicated phrase. We will look at the meaning of the phrase heebie-jeebies, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Having the heebie-jeebies means to be in a state of nervousness, anxiety, or fear. The state of having the heebie-jeebies is one of vague discomfort. One is said to have the heebie-jeebies or been given the heebie-jeebies. Note that the term is correctly rendered with a hyphen, though it is often seen without a hyphen. The term comes from a comic strip that was popular in the United States in the 1920s, Barney Google, written and drawn by Billy De Beck: “You dumb ox – why don’t you get that stupid look offa your pan – you gimme the heeby jeebys!” In the late 1930s the secondary character Snuffy Smith took a larger role, and the comic strip was renamed Barney Google and Snuffy Smith. When Billy De Beck died in 1942, his assistant Fred Lasswell took over the comic. At Lasswell’s death in 2001, John R. Rose inherited the strip. Barney Google and Snuffy Smith is one of the oldest comic strips still in syndication, continuously in publication since 1919.

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Examples

Self-serve meals might give you the heebie-jeebies, but you can trust that the food served on American cruise ships is safe to eat, says Sarah Krieger, MPH, RDN, a nutritionist who specializes in food safety issues. (Food & Wine Magazine)

That’s exactly what Hurd is doing, while the rest of them are all too wussed out to say anything because of their Tea Party heebie-jeebies. (The Dallas Observer)

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