Gibe, jibe, jive

  • Gibe refers to a taunt or a derisive remark. It functions as both a verb (to taunt) and a noun (taunt). Jibe has a nautical use (relating to turning the sail to go on an opposite tack), but it’s most often used to mean agree or to be in accordJive refers to either jazz music, dancing, or nonsense talk, although it can sound old-fashioned or ironic in its senses unrelated to dance. It functions as both a noun (for the dance, music, or talk) and a verb (to engage in the dance, music, or talk).


     A fourth word, gybe, is an alternative spelling of the nautical sense of jibe. Most of us will never have use for it.



    Members lightheartedly gibed Valeriote when he said they joined the cause “with little or no convincing.” [Guelph Mercury]

    For all the insults hurled at “Disneyland with the death penalty” (to use William Gibson’s gibe), Singapore provides better schools and hospitals and safer streets than most Western countries. [Economist]



    How Conrad’s budget resolution will jibe with what Ryan puts out is anyone’s guess. [CNN]

    You can, however, use “cultural fit” as a catchall when your personality doesn’t jibe with a team or organisation. [Business Daily Africa]


    We’re guessing not too many are tuning in to see Mike Catherwood do the jive. [Los Angeles Times]

    Because, brother, that was some slick jive you just laid down tonight. [comment on Big Government]

    Soviet Delegate Andrei Vishinsky revealed in the General Assembly Thursday that he is hep to American jive. [The Times-News]


    1. “Jive” in current usage means “insincere” or “b.s.”

      • Hopefully that dies down. Jive as a stylish/quirky if not ‘cooooolcat’ – like word. Just sounds far better. xD And it seems that Gibe would fit that ” current ” meaning more snugly.

    2. Tiger Sailor says

      In sailing, to jibe/gybe very specifically refers to changing course while heading downwind, while to tack refers to changing course while heading upwind. Similarly, I have only ever heard “being on a tack,” that is, being on a specific course, used when going upwind (port tack/starboard tack). However, I am less certain that one could *not* say “port tack” or “starboard tack” for his boat position while moving downwind.

    3. I thought jibe was most often used NOT to agree or be in accord with, and your examples can read that way too.

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