Friday, February 6, 2015

What "Jiggy" Means & Where That Word REALLY Came From

Edited by Azizi Powell

[Latest revision: June 24, 2017]

This is Part I of a two part series on the word "jiggy" and on the phrases "gettin jiggy wit (with) it", "keepin it jiggy", and "its a jiggy time."

Part I provides information and comments about the meanings and sources of the word "jiggy" and those phrases mentioned above. This post also includes my interpretation of certain slang words that are found in lyrics to selected songs hat include those words and phrases. My interpretation of selected blogger comments are also included in this post.

Click for Part II of this post.

Part II features Will Smith's 1997 Hip Hop video "Gettin Jiggy Wit It" as well as two videos and one sound file of Dancehall records that include the word "jiggy" in their lyrics. Those records are Voicemail's "Weh Di Time", Sean Paul's "Get Busy", and Elephant Man's "Keeping It Jiggy".

The content of this post is presented for etymology and cultural purposes.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

"Jiggy" is an adjective that I believe was coined by African Americans in the late 20th century. As is the case with other slang words, "jiggy" has multiple meanings. Here are some of those meanings:
[These entries are given in no particular order, and are numbered for referencing purposes only.]
1. "jiggy 
A played out slang term from the mid to late 90's meaning getting loose or dreesing [dressing] fly that was used by New Yorkers(mainly Harlem cats) before Will Smith came out with "Getting Jiggy with it".

Yo duke looking Jiggy tonight with the Phat Farm sweater and the Jewalzz...


Damn you was getting Jiggy on the dance floor last night.

by Olskoolrule from, May 26, 2004"
"Played out" = something that is no longer used.

Harlem cats= Men in Harlem (a section of New York City, New York, USA)

Will Smith's Rap record "Gettin Jiggy Wit It" was released in 1997. (More comments about Will Smith and the word "jiggy" are found below.)

"dressing fly" = wearing clothes in the latest [African American] urban styles. [Note that the adjective "fly" is a compliment.]

"getting jiggy on the dance floor" is the same as "getting loose" = enjoy yourself without regard to any inhibitions, for example, females dancing in sexually provocative ways

"yo duke" = Hey, [that] man

"Phat Farm" = a [formerly] popular brand of African American urban clothing

"Jewalzz" = jewels

2. jiggy [means]
1) down with
2) having sex or messing around with
3) exclamation that means "Sweet!" or "Tiiiiiight!"
4) all right

1) "Gettin' jiggy wit na na na na na na!"
or "Yeah, I'm jiggy wit that."
2) "I got jiggy wit your mom last night."
3) "Gator boots with the pimped-out Gucci suit." "JIGGY!"
4) "You aiight? Everything jiggy over here?"

by Nick D, February 25, 2003
"down with" = agree with; being into" something or someone [accept, support]

3. "jiggy= adjective to describe having a good time..."
- jamdowntnt,, 08-20-2005

4. "Jiggy - originally black American urban slang, made popular in mainstream American culture by actor/rapper Will Smith and co-opted by Elephant Man, has since become passe in the African-American community in which it originated; used varyingly to refer to 'having a good time' (as jamdowntnt put it) or a blanket descriptive term for the colourful, dance-oriented style of dancehall reggae currently in vogue, epitomized by artists Elephant Man and Voise Mail (and a few tracks by Beenie [m]an."
Don Malvo,, 08-20-2005
Warning- Some of the comments in that discussion contain Jamaican English profanity and American English profanity.

Note: That entire discussion thread was interesting for an outsider (non-Caribbean person) who is interested in Jamaican slang meanings and how those meanings might change over a period of time.

There was no disagreement among those Jamaican bloggers about the meaning of the word "jiggy". However, there was some disagreement about other words such as "weddy" and "passa passa". By the end of that thread some of the bloggers recognized that at least part of the disagreement was because the meanings of some slang words had changed.

The two other important points that I got from that discussion thread were that like most slang throughout the world, most Jamaican slang words and phrases have a short life and also that ,in those bloggers' opinions, Dancehall artists often make up words and phrases or give previously existing words and phrases new meanings as a means of increasing their records' sales.

Theory #1:
The word "jiggy" in the saying "Gettin' jiggy with (wit) it" and "Keepin it jiggy" comes from the word "jig" (with the etymology of "jig" from the French word "gige", "gigue").
Early definitions for "jiggy"
adjective jiggier, jiggiest
1. nervous, active, excitedly energetic
2. wonderful and exciting, because stylish

1930-35, Americanism; origin uncertain, perhaps jig2 or jig(gle) + -y2"

Later definition for "jiggy"
adj. jig·gi·er, jig·gi·est Slang
1. Moving excitedly, especially when dancing: getting jiggy on the dance floor.

2. Engaged in sexual intercourse: The couple went upstairs to get jiggy.

3. Affiliated or identified: politicians trying to get jiggy with younger voters.

Theory #2:
The second theory is that the word "jiggy" in the sayings "Get jiggy wit it." ahd "Keepin it jiggy". comes from the word "jigaboo". That theory comes from Will Smith, the composer and performer of the 1997 Hip-Hop/Pop record "Get Jiggy Wit It"
From t'_Jiggy_wit_It
"The connotations associated with the expression getting jiggy were heavily influenced by [Will Smith's single "Get Jiggy Wit It".] The term went from being used to acclaim one's fashion or style towards being synonymous with dancing, and eventually back to the original association with sexual connotations [3].

[Will] Smith has attested in an interview[4] that his inspiration to alter the meaning for the purpose of the song came from his association of the term "jiggy" with "jigaboo", a derogatory term for African-Americans, which made the literal meaning of the title "getting African-American with it" and which was meant to reference the popular folk-myth of an innate sense of rhythm in black folks. The co-opting of a once offensive word also was racially empowering."[4]
citation 3: jiggy. (n.d.)". Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved 2007-04-26.
citation 4: Joyner, Michael (1998). "Gettin' Jiggy Wit Will Smith". Feature 4 (9): 7.
In spite of actor/rapper Will Smith's statement that he created the word "jiggy" from the racial slur "jigaboo", I'm very skeptical of the theory that "jiggy" came from that word.
Here's information about the etymology of the word "jigaboo":
"Jigaboo, jiggabo, jigarooni, jijjiboo, zigabo, jig, jigg, jigga, jigger(US and UK)[139] term for a black person with stereotypical black features (e.g. dark skin, wide nose, and big lips).[140] Jiggaboo or jigabo is from a Bantu verb tshikabo, meaning meek or servile.[141]"
The word "jig" may also have been used as a racial slur for Black people because of its similarity to the beginning portion of the word that is now often given as "the n word".
I support the theory that the origin of "jiggy" is from the word "jiggle" which has its source in the word "jig".
Here's more information about the word "jiggle":
to move or cause (something) to move with quick, short movements up and down or side to side

to cause to move with quick little jerks or oscillating motions

Other English words that are related to "jig" are "jiggle", "jitter", "jittery", and "jitterbug".

Here's more information about the etymology of the word "jig":
"Jig: Etymology
An assimilated form of earlier gig, from Middle English gigge, from Old French gige, gigue (“a fiddle, kind of dance”), from Frankish *gīge (“dance, fiddle”), from Proto-Germanic *gīganą (“to move, wish, desire”), from Proto-Indo-European *gheiǵh-, *gheigh- (“to yawn, gape, long for, desire”)."

Here are two comments from the YouTube video viewer comment thread for a 1914 silent film clip of African American dancing. The publisher titled that video "A 1914 film showing black people dancing in a dance hall - Great dance moves. Getting jiggy with it!"
MooPotPie, January 2015
"The root of the term "jig" in the dance context is non-racial in. It comes from the French "Gigue" or Spanish "Giga" and simply refers to lively folk dancing. Now "jigaboo" is a different story. While it's origins are actually Bantu, it became a well-known racial slur in the English-speaking world in the 19th-century. I'm pretty sure "jiggy", in this context, refers to the former. I can think of far worse slang we've come to embrace in the today's hip-hop culture . . . I'm sure you can too."

lucy rosevelt, February 2015
"+MooPotPie Yeah, I was thinking Irish Jig - fast fancy footwork that developed into American Tap dancing."

"Get jiggy wit it" = Get hype!, Get busy!, "Get down!" "Work out! Note that these are exclamations to dancers to continue dancing very well.

Jiggy (fashion) = fashion that are fly, funky [in the latest style according to African American urban aesthetics] Note that these are compliments.

[given in no particular order] [revised June 24, 2017]
1. From
"jigaboo (n.)
insulting name for a black person, 1909, perhaps from jig (q.v.), which had been applied insultingly to persons (regardless of race) since late 18c., and ending from bugaboo. Shortened form jig is attested from 1924."

2. From
"Here is how Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang defines the term and explains its etymology:

JIGABOO noun [1920’s and still in use] (originally U.S.) a derogatory term for a Black person. [either Standard English ‘jig,’ a dance, ultimately from French giguer, to leap to gambol, to frolic (the classic 19th century stereotypes); or modeled on Standard English ‘bugaboo,’ which, in the 13th century, was the name of a demon, and since the 18th century, the fear of demons in general; or Bantu ‘tshikabo,’ a meek and servile person, used as derogatory by slaves. Paradoxically , the first use of ‘jigaboo’ – in the song ‘ I’ve got rings on my fingers’ in the s how ‘The Midnight Sons’ (1909; music Raymond Hubbell)– appears to have referred to Asians"."

1. Will Smith - "Gettin Jiggy Wit It"
African American Hip Hop, 1997
Lyric excerpt:
i go psycho, when my new joint hits/
juss cant sit/
gotta get jiggy wit it/
"I go crazy (I get real excited) when I hear my new record".
I just can't sit, I got to get up and enjoy myself dancing enthusiastically (excitedly, wildly)...

2. Sean Paul - "Get Busy" [also colloquially known as "Shake That Thing Miss Annabella"]
Jamaican Dancehall, filmed in Canada, 2003
Phrase: "Get jiggy"
Lyric excerpt:
Woman Get busy, Just shake that booty non-stop
When the beat drops
Just keep swinging it
Get jiggy
Get crunked up
Percolate anything you want to call it
Oscillate you hip and don’t take pity
Dance provocatively, Get busy [doing that seductive dance]
Note that "crunk" is style of African American Hip Hop dancing/

3. Voicemail, featuring Delly Ranx and Bogle - "Weh Di Time" (also given as "Weddy Time")
Jamaican Dancehall, 2003
Phrase: "keepin it jiggy" and "it's a jiggy" time"
Lyric excerpts:
"Missa Wacky dis keepin' it jiggy with Delly and Voice Mail...

It's a Jiggy time again
Jiggy Jiggy Jiggy Jiggy
A Jiggy time again
It's a jiggy time = It's time to dance, it's time to kick back, (loosen up), relax, and have fun.
Note that Wikipedia calls this song a "party anthem"

4. Elephant Man - "Keepin it jiggy"
Jamaican Dancehall, 2004
Lyric excerpt:
"Mek them stay dey war like Tupac and Biggy
Dance we a dance and keeping it jiggy"...,Elephant,Man.html
Make them call a truce in their war (like the African American rappers) Tupac and Biggy [Biggy Smalls]
We'll dance a dance and keep up the good times [and have some fun.]

This is by no means a comprehensive listing of songs that include the word "jiggy". For instance,
“Carl Poppa” by Bad Lip Reading is an example of a contemporary American song which parodies a character on the popular television series The Walking Dead is The chorus to that song includes the line "jiggy jar jar doo doo". The word "jiggy" serves a lyrical purpose only, and otherwise is meaningless. Click for a video of that 2014 song.

Also, the first part of the stage name "Jiggly Caliente", a contestant on Season 4 of RuPaul's Drag Race, is an example of an adaptation of the word "jiggle". Click for that interview.

This concludes Part I of this series.

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  1. This is very interesting. I wonder if you have a sense of during which years "getting jiggy" was commonly used in mainstream American slang?

    1. Thanks for your comment, Anonymous.

      I conferred with my daughter and we both agree that Will Smith's 1997 record "Gettin Jiggy With It" caused the word "jiggy" to become known in mainstream (non-Black) American culture. Urban entries appear to suggest that "2003" was the year that more people in "mainstream" America really became familiar with this slang term, but I think by then it was being used less often by Black Americans.

      Btw- as a result of reading your comment, I realized that I hadn't finished writing the quotes about the etymology of the word "jiggaboo", but I've added that second entry for that word now.

      Thanks again!