JIBE, Not Jive

The verb  jibe is ripe for confusion. For one thing, it is a homonym* of gibe, defined as “to deride, taunt, or tease.” For another, the phrase jibe with it is too often misvoiced as jive with. A look at the definitions of jibe and jive tell the tale.

jibe  1) To be in accord; 2) agree

jive  1) to dance to or play jive music; 2) to say foolish or deceptive things

So, when you call up jive to convey that one thing or another squares with something else, you’re actually saying that said thing is either getting down and grooving or indulging in jazzy slang. But don’t feel like the Lone Ranger: A good third of Americans unwittingly supplant jibe with jive, and the jivers may be in the majority by the end of this century.

*To bone up on homonyms, check out Hazardous Homonyms.

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