Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Jook (Juke) Words & Phrases In The Caribbean & In The USA

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post is provides a compilation of definitions, comments, and usages of the word "jook" (juke) and phrases including that word. By no means is this intended to be a comprehensive listing of these terms & phrases.

The content of this post is presented for etymological, cultural, and sociological purposes.

Click for this companion post "Juke + Footwork Documentary Video (with information & comments)"

All copyrights remain with their owners.

I don't consider myself an etymologist, but I am interested in the origin, meaning, and uses of words & phrases. I'm also not a musicologist, but I'm also interested in that subject. Additions & corrections are very welcome.

These definitions/comments are given in no particular order & are only numbered for reference purposes).


1. "Jook: to pierce or stick, as with a thorn or a long pointed
stick, to stab"[Bajan (Barbados) patois dictionary]
[compiled in 1995-1997]

2. Jook - "to pierce or stick, as with a thorn or a long pointed stick. (5) also used in a sexual context (29)" "Rasta/Patois Dictionary and Phrases/Proverbs"

3. jook : "To have sexual intercourse" “Jamaican Dictionary”

4. Juke Ahm!
Juke ‘em“ [exclamation at the end of a Carriacou children’s singing “mating” game entitled “Under A Cabin We Shall Be”
"JUKE AHM (And the signature Juke!)" posted by Nick Cox.

My comment:
Nick Cox wrote that he remembers this singing game from when he was a child in the 1960s, and describes it as "the popular ring game." As to the ending line "JUKE AHN!" my guess is that when shouting the exclamation "JUKE AHM" (Jook 'em!) the children singing this game song performed a sharply pronounced wine [twist a hip to the side] or, even more likely, did a pelvis thrust movement. For an example of a Caribbean traditional dance that features the pelvis thrust, click Martinque "MARTINIQUE - Bèlè **Mabélo**"
Additional references to the origin of the word "Jook" in the Caribbean are found in the next section below.

JOOK (JUKE) WORDS & PHRASES IN THE USA (Pre 1980s origin & usage)

1. jukebox (n.) "1937, jook organ, from jook joint "roadhouse" (1935), Black English slang, from juke, joog "wicked, disorderly," in Gullah (the creolized English of the coastlands of South Carolina, Georgia, and northern Florida), probably from Wolof and Bambara dzug "unsavory." Said to have originated in central Florida (see "A Note on Juke," Florida Review, vol. VII, no. 3, spring 1938). The spelling with a -u- might represent a deliberate attempt to put distance between the word and its origins." "Online Etymology Dictionary"

2. Jook (Juke), Jook Joints
"Linguistic scholars have made attempts to trace the derivation of the term "jook" or "juke”...

Lorenzo Turner identifies the roots of the term in the Gullah word "juk," which means infamous and disorderly. He traces the Gullah from its West African roots, in a Wolof word "jug," meaning to lead a disorderly life, and a Banbara word "jugu" meaning a wicked, violent, or naughty person (195)."

3. Jukebox
"Origin Of Jukebox
from dialect jukehouse brothel, from juke to have sexual intercourse with, of Atlantic Creole origin; akin to Jamaican English juk to poke, stab, Krio chuk

First Known Use: 1939"

4. Juke [Blues record title] 1952
"Juke" is a harmonica instrumental recorded by then 22-year-old Chicago bluesman Little Walter Jacobs in 1952. Although Little Walter had been recording sporadically for small Chicago labels over the previous five years, and had appeared on Muddy Waters' records for the Chess label since 1950, "Juke" was Little Walter's first hit, and it was the most important of his career. Due to the influence of Little Walter on blues harmonica, "Juke" is now considered a blues harmonica standard."
Click for a sound file of this tune.

JOOK (JUKE) WORDS & PHRASES IN THE USA (1980s - early 21st century origin & usage)

1. Juke (dancing) [early meaning]
A reference to a type of couples slow dancing in one spot either while standing on the dance floor, or while laying on the floor;
This is the same as or very similar to "grinding" [a dance term that has been in use since at least the 1960s or earlier, as per my recollections of the early 1960s in Southern New Jersey. "Grinding" or "letting a boy "grind you" was considered to be "nasty".]

2. Juke
"Chicago style of dance. A form of grinding on the dance floor. Most often perform to Chicago-style house music

Everybody get yo juke on!"

streetzee July 24, 2005
There are YouTube videos of "slow juke" [dancing]. However, I'm not linking to any of those videos because of this blog's policies.

3. Jukin on
Another 2005 entry on [whose link I'm not posting because of the profanity and explicit sexual content on that page] defines both “grinding” or “jukin” as when a female backs up close to the front of a male’s body and dances close to him. The sentence with that definition entry: She was jukin on dude all night long.

4. Juke music
"Also known as: Juke House, Jukin' House

Ghetto House had traditionally been at around 140bpm, but tempos were rising in the late nineties as producers sought new sounds; one of these producers was RP Boo. In 1997 he released a track, Baby Come On, which is generally considered to be the starting point of the subgenre of juke house. Juke is faster than ghetto house, playing at 160bpm, and makes striking use of unconventional drum patterns which differ wildly from other house styles. It is further removed from its predecessors by the absence of sampled drums and percussion, relying entirely on drum machines for rhythms. The genre also has its own dance style, footwork, which is sometimes used as an AKA for the music."

5. Juke music and footwork dancing
..."Juking has been around for years but now it’s serious business with competitions and professional dance crews and theme songs. Recently the folks at Red Bull’s Bulletin magazine covered Chicago juke group BBU...Now I know there are tons of specific names for moves, and offshoot dance genres, but I notice that for the guys, juking seems to tend more towards insanely fast footwork. For the gals...they perform magic feats of hip-rolling, butt-bobbing, and squat-thrusting!

[A caption under a video of females juking: “Another battle of backbreaking pelvis popping….”

Another caption for a video: “apparently there are also “hip-rolling” slow-jam battles”]
My observation: All of these videos show Black males or Black females dancing.

[A comment from that article from SCRAPDIRTY, June 20th, 2011 at 8:08 pm]
"In Chicago we have many forms of Music When i was Spinning at that time “Geto House” it had Evolved into “Juke” in the 90′s. FootWorking & all these Dances have been in Chicago since the early 80s. Detroit is Diffrent thier Dance is Called “JIT” 2 different styles. Music: Chicago Westside (JUKE aka GETOHOUSE a Splash of Tracks & Disco) The SouthSide Always Embraced DISCO. So for those trying to Knock where this came from all our Black Asses are originally from AFRICA. Now BEAT that DRUM.
peace ScrapDirty @ViolatorDJs"

6. Memphis Jookin'
"'Gangsta Walking (often referred to as G-Walk , Buckin,"Choppin", "Tickin", Jookin, or Choppin) is a street dance that originated in Memphis, Tennessee alongside "Buck" music during the 1990s. "...

7. Jukin up tracks
DJs [disc jockeys] cutting up tracks [sampling] to make juke music [Note that one slang definition for a "cut" is a record track. Another slang definition for "cut" is to have sexual intercourse. These definitions are similar to some of the colloquial definitions that have been given to the word "juke".

In a 2003 entry* for the word ‘cut’ by Pymp wrote:
5. "A song. Synonym for "track". Derived from the old days when music was recorded on master tapes which had to be literally cut up in order to make the final music release."

*Urban dictionary definitions are submitted by the general public. These definitions may not be complete or accurate. Also, urban dictionary pages often contain profanity, sexual explicit language, and other language that I don't consider appropriate for this blog. For that reason, I'm not linking to this or to some other urban dictionary pages.

Comment from the documentary: "JUKE + FOOTWORK MINI-DOCUMENTARY FOR NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO" [Hereafter given as YouTube: Juke + Footwork Documentary] at .028-029
"An unidentified DJ says: What we do, we juke the tracks out”
I think that the word "out" in this sentence is an intensifier which means "We [DJs] really juke the tracks.”

8. Jukin [slow jukin]
Comment at 2:00-2:28 by R. P. Boo
"I used to be a dancer, and a lot of the dancers with me, the house of baggers [?]. dey were more a footworkers. But we never knew in the years to come that it would become a style of music to help them out. As much as I was on the turntable, a lot of people that was jukin, just stopped and just looked at us doin the footwork and said they just learned and say “Well, hey, instead of standin in one spot dancing with these girls, I like to do move on they feet, and the rest was history.”

Source: YouTube: Juke + Footwork Documentary

9. Juking [Jukin'], Juke parties
producing and playing juke music and doing juke dances, and/or attending juke dancing events [parties, competitions]

There are a number of YouTube video of juke [dancing] competitions. Also, here's a comment from the viewer comment thread for YouTube: Juke + Footwork Documentary:
Raoul Simon, 2013
"Chi-town in effect! Keep on Juking"
"Chi-town" is a nickname for Chicago, Illinois which is the home of juke music, footwork dancing, and other types of juke dancing such as "bobbin".

"in effect; Also "in full effect"

here and ready; often used in the beginning of RAP songs to indicate the artist is there and ready to jam"
EHA, July 18, 2006
"Keep on Juking!" means to continue the overall Juke experience.

10. killer juke
Here's a comment from the viewer comment thread for YouTube: Juke + Footwork Documentary:
arvydas0069, 2013
"search Boiler room Addison Groove.....check out that producer he does some killer juke....the best
“killer juke" here refers to the music. When used as an adjective, killer" means something that is [or someone who is]
very good, or the best at that particular activity. A related phrase is "She killed it" meaning "She did an something outstanding" or "She bested someone else in a competition" [She won.] "She slaughtered it" means that "she won with very little competition."

I think that this colloquial meaning of "killer" and "killed" came from combining two meanings for the word "beat" - to win and "to hit" [beat up] something. To emphasize, there's no connotation of doing violence in these colloquial meanings of "kill" and "beat".

Less frequently, the word "murder" and "slaughter" are used with the same colloquial meaning as "She [or he] killed it". By the way, the word "sick" also has a colloquial superlative meaning. think that colloquial meaning is related to the above Hip-Hop meanings of "killer" and "killed".

RELATED LINK "Examples Of Black Slang In A YouTube Juke Dance Competition Viewer Comment Thread"

Thanks to all those who I have quoted in this post.

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Visitor comments are welcome.

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