Green’s Dictionary of Slang

jam n.1

[SE jam, a crush; 19C SE crush, a party]

1. (US) a social gathering or party; a crowd.

[UK] ‘The Theatre’ in H. Smith Rejected Addresses 105: All is bustle, squeeze, row, jabbering, and jam.
Longfellow in Longfellow Life of H.W. Longfellow I (2003) 123: I have been several times to her evening jams; but, as it was Lent, there was no dancing .
F. Jackson Victim of Chancery 57: It is not our intention to give a detailed description of all the etiquette, or all the vulgarity, that is found at the ‘jam’ of a city Nabob.
[US]Chicago Daily Journal 19 Feb. 3/1: Party succeeds to party, from a quiet little ‘social’ to the pretending and fashionable ‘Jam,’ where ‘wheeling about and turning about’ is the order of the evening [DA].
[US]D.P. Thompson Trappers of Umbagog 3: One of those social gatherings that have been sometimes [...] not inaptly denominated a jam.
[US]R. Grant Confessions of Frivolous Girl 41: A nearly solid jam of girls, clustered together in chairs.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 24 Jan. 6/3: Then, in return for Graham’s ‘jam,’ friend Ballington expressed a ‘fervent wish for the future happiness and prosperity of the Chief Secretary,’ and the Harmy fired a volley of Amens.
[US]F.S. Fitzgerald ‘May Day’ in Bodley Head Scott Fitzgerald V (1963) 181: People [...] Whole jam of them.

2. in fig. uses, i.e. that which crushes.

(a) a problem, a difficult situation; usu. in a jam.

[US] in A. Charters Ragtime Songbook (1965) 51: If you fool with me, you’ll get in a jam .
[UK]G. Stratton-Porter Harvester 81: Just at the wrong instant a box fell and knocked down a child and I got in a jam.
[US]F. Williams Hop-Heads 107: ‘Turk Street Paul,’ just now in a ‘jam,’ does business from an automobile.
[UK]E. Glyn Flirt and Flapper 66: Flapper: He’s got to be ready to get you out of jams.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Blood Pressure’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 88: Then I will be in a jam for witnessing the murder.
[US]J. Spenser Limey 13: I saw in the papers that you were in a bit of a jam with the cops.
[US]R. Chandler High Window 210: He sent for you. He told you he was in a jam and that if the law caught up with him, he would see that you were in the jam with him.
[US]I. Shulman Amboy Dukes 83: Honest [...] you’re not in no jam.
[US]R. Prather Always Leave ’Em Dying 110: He’s in an awful jam, and you’ve got to unjam him.
[US]C. Himes Big Gold Dream 135: He figured every little bit he did for the police would help him if he got into a jam.
[UK]‘Hergé’ Tintin and the Land of Black Gold 20: We really are in a jam, and no mistake!
[US]L. Rosten Dear ‘Herm’ 139: I am still in a jam.
[US]L.A. Times 29 Mar. 136/1: He asks [...] ‘How did I get into all these jams?’ How indeed does one get into a jam as serious as first-degree murder?
[UK]‘Derek Raymond’ He Died with His Eyes Open 182: You’ve got yourself in an almighty fucking jam, haven’t you?
[US]N. McCall Makes Me Wanna Holler (1995) 377: As long as he knows you’re going to bail him out, he’ll continue getting into jams.
[US]Hip-Hop Connection Jan.–Feb. 45: I was like ‘Fuck it. I’m in a jam, my next record’s tied up’.
[US]Codella and Bennett Alphaville (2011) 20: He got in a major jam with the local cops.
[US]S. King Finders Keepers (2016) 289: He’s in some kind of jam.

(b) (US, also jamb) a disagreement or a fight.

[US]Van Loan ‘The Bush League Demon’ in Big League (2004) 45: If you get into a jam to-day [...] I’ll fine you a month’s salary.
E. Hemingway Men without Women 68: ‘Did he have a jam with Soldier?’ ‘Not a jam [...] He just told him to go back to town.’.
[US]C. Panzram Journal of Murder in Gaddis & Long (2002) 171: Rusk and Huntsville [...] are both due for the blow-off. [...] Baltimore is due for a jamb.
[US]R.E. Howard ‘Sign of the Snake’ Action Stories June [Internet] So knowin’ you must be in some kind of a jamb, I just up and busted in.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Romance in the Roaring Forties’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 34: The best Dave can get is the worst of it in a jam with a newspaper guy.
[US]T. Thursday ‘There’s Hicks In All Trades’ in All Sports Feb. [Internet] I got in a jam back East with the burglar what managed me and I had to lam out.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 109/2: Jam. [...] 2. (P) Difficulty with prison authorities or fellow convicts; a report or lock-up.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 90: Originally, a jam was a gang fight, but it has been expanded to mean any fight.

(c) (US drugs) an overdose [‘it gets you in a jam’ (Spears, 1986)].

[US]D. Maurer ‘Argot of the Und. Narcotic Addict’ Pt 1 in AS XI:2 123/1: jam. An overdose of dope.
[US]Anslinger & Tompkins Traffic In Narcotics 311: jam. An overdose of a drug.
[US]J.E. Schmidt Narcotics Lingo and Lore.

3. (US black) swing or other popular music.

[US] in Kalmar & Ruby Life of the Party [film script] Who brought the jam to old Jamaica / Who made them swing in Singapore? [HDAS].
[US] ‘Jiver’s Bible’ in D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.
[US](con. 1948) G. Mandel Flee the Angry Strangers 456: Let’s go up Tenth Street, Normie; they got some Sunday jam at Nelson’s. Let’s do listen to some good ole music. Some good Dixie.
[US]H. Simmons Corner Boy 36: Dig this crazy jam.
[US]R. Price Ladies’ Man (1985) 156: What a dynamite jam. I slipped it on the box. Just one record.

4. (US black) a party with music.

[US]New Yorker 4 Feb. 34: I got into a jam attending a jam – one of those phonograph-record jams, or platter parties, to which each guest brings his or her favorite hot or blues recording.
[US]Current Sl. III:3 8: Jam, n. A dance.
[US]H.E. Roberts Third Ear n.p.: jam n. dance or party.
[US]Newcleus ‘Huxtable House Party’ [lyrics] We’re throwing a jam that you don’t want to miss.
[US]L. Stavsky et al. A2Z.
[US]W. Shaw Westsiders 48: That’s when the block parties and the park jams that incubated hip-hop started.

5. music in general, a song, a record, a performance of jazz, rock or rap music (orig. with a dance routine).

[US]H. Simmons Corner Boy 37: What’s the name of the jam? [record].
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 206: The cats put on a platter by Miles and Bird, / the terriblest jam I ever heard.
[US]R. Price Blood Brothers 159: They would throw on some heavy jams, some Curtis, some James Brown [...] you name it!
[US]M. Baker Nam (1982) 26: I liked listening to her. She put on some good jams.
[US]Ice-T ‘Power’ [lyrics] That adds up to six years of makin’ ok jams.
[US]K. Scott Monster (1994) 275: ‘Remember that Temprees song [...] “We’ve Only Just Begun”’ [...] ‘Yeah, that’s a bad jam.’.
[US]Lerner et al. Dict. of Today’s Words 97: Jam – the noise level of a party or event, as in, ‘Let’s pump up the jam here’.
[US]‘Master Pimp’ Pimp’s Rap 7: I slipped the DJ five dollars to play the number one slow jam for us.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Fall 6: Jams – music.
[UK]D.S. Mitchell Killer Tune (2008) 25: No jam is a success until the crowd closes its eyes and feels the things it cannot see.
[US]J. Díaz This Is How You Lose Her 95: You remember that José Chinga jam ‘Fly Tetas’?
[UK]Guardian G2 3 July 13/1: Some of the slower sex-centred jams are a bit suspect.

6. (US gay) a spontaneous party that ends in an orgy or a big fight.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 117: jam [...] 2. a spontaneous party often ending in a spirited orgy or free-for-all with fighting, etc.

7. (W.I.) a crowd in a venue that is at full capacity.

[WI]Francis-Jackson Official Dancehall Dict. 28: Jam capacity crowd: u. de dance last nite did jam, iah.

In compounds

jambox (n.) [box n.1 (4b)/SE box]

(US campus) a portable stereo tape deck; latterly CD system.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Fall 3: jambox – a radio with a tape player.
[US]Eble Sl. and Sociability 15: Although slang items come and go, it is easier to pinpoint, and in some instances to explain, the comings than the goings. Ghetto blaster, jambox, and third world briefcase naturally did not come into this language before this past decade, because the ‘portable stereo tape deck’ had not been invented.
T. Clark More Outrageous Ideas for Youth Ministry 151: They need to get a jambox and listen to a bunch of Christian tunes.
G. Lee Teaching Guitar 9: A portable CD system (a jambox) works just fine.
M. Labash Fly Fishing with Darth Vader 106: Students mount a crate and play a jambox that blasts the national anthem.

In phrases