Green’s Dictionary of Slang

jive n.1

[SE jibe, to scoff, to sneer]

1. (US black) sexual intercourse, also a sex partner.

[US]R. Fisher Walls Of Jericho 54: Figgerin’ on a jive already – the doggone dickty hound.
[US]Cab Calloway ‘For the Last Time I Cried Over You’ 🎵 Solid M-O, man, but that’s the last time for that jive.
[US]H.E. Roberts Third Ear n.p.: jive n. […] 6. a man with many girlfriends.

2. (orig. US black) nonsense, rubbish, insincere, deceitful or pretentious talk [note Burley, Orig. Handbook of Harlem Jive (1944): ‘Jive is a distortion of that staid, old, respectable English word “jibe” — jibber — speak fast and inarticulately, chatter [...] Jibberish — unintelligible speech, meaningless sounds, jargon, blundering or ungrammatical talk’; he dates it to Chicago, 1921; Mezzrow & Wolfe, Really the Blues (1946): ‘The word jive probably comes from the old English word jibe, out of which came the words jibberish and gibberish, describing sound without meaning, speech that isn’t intelligible’; Mezzrow further suggests, quoting black journalist Earl Conrad, that ‘Jive talk may have been originally a kind of “pig Latin” that the slaves talked with each other, a code – when they were in the presence of whites’. Note that jive, swing music is SE].

[US]Frankie ‘Half-Pint’ Jaxon ‘Hannah Fell in Love with my Piano’ 🎵 Well, you’ll never do nothing like that to me! / I can’t stand that kind of a jive!
[US]R. Fisher Walls Of Jericho 94: Judge. Humph. So that was his jive. Huh. Judge. [Ibid.] 301: jive: pursuit in love or any device thereof. Usually flattery with intent to win [...] this word implies [...] deceit.
[US]Fats Waller [song title] Don’t Try Your Jive on Me.
[US]E.F. Frazier Negro Youth xxi: ‘I haven’t read a book since I graduated last year [...] you can keep that reading ‘jibe’’.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 37: I used to hear a lot of medical jive when I apprenticed in my uncle’s drugstore.
[US]Kerouac letter 28 Apr. in Charters II (1999) 29: And of course Ed I visited Notre Dame, Montmartre, etc. all that jive.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Mama Black Widow 156: Mama, yu oughta stop talkin thet junky jive.
[US]R.D. Pharr S.R.O. (1998) 58: ‘I let her stay temporarily, but she keeps on with her jive and so I decide to teach her something’.
[UK](con. 1960s) Nicholson & Smith Spend, Spend, Spend (1978) 87: They were giving us all that jive.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Godson 328: ‘Hail Mary and all that jive’.
[US]R.R. Moore ‘Signifyin’ Monkey’ 🎵 But he drug his ass back to the jungle more dead than alive. / Just to run into that little monkey and some more of his signifying jive!
[US]T. Jones Pugilist at Rest 34: Just a lot of Mickey Mouse jive – push-ups and forced marches.
[US]G. Pelecanos Night Gardener 247: Some kind of jive about insubordination.
[US](con. 1963) L. Berney November Road 29: A priest comforted his flock on the steps of the cathedral [...] The usual jive.
[US](con. 1962) J. Ellroy Enchanters 89: [S]he beats the drum for civil rights and all that jive.

3. (US) Afro-American slang, esp. as coined in Harlem and thence used by jazz musicians; also attrib.

[US]D. Burley N.Y. Amsterdam News 15 Jan. 17/2: Listen to the typewriter translate the jive of the avenue into swing talk on paper.
[US]D. Burley N.Y. Amsterdam News 26 Oct. 20: [G]iving me a pat on the back as being ‘America’s leading jive writer’.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 220: Jive [...] is not only a strange linguistic mixture of dream and deed; it’s a whole new attitude to life.
[US]L. Brown Iron City 25: Zach here don’t know that jailhouse jive.
[US]H. Rhodes Chosen Few (1966) 32: He talks a lot of jive and keeps a bunch a’ broads runnin’ after him on liberty.
[US]Grateful Dead ‘Candy Man’ 🎵 I come in from Memphis / where I learned to talk the jive.
[US]G. Tate ‘Ramm-El-Zee vs. K-Rob’ in Flyboy in the Buttermilk (1992) 94: Walking that razor’s edge between go-go jive and rap’s flip side.
[US]T. Williams Crackhouse 17: Surrounded by the sounds of jive-talking rappers from radios, kids hollering out the rules of street games.
[US](con. 1964–8) J. Ellroy Cold Six Thousand 91: Shouts overlapped [...] some nuggets in rebop and jive.
[SA]IOL News (Western Cape) 18 Oct. 🌐 When flight attendants were unable to communicate with a pair of jive-talking hipsters, Billingsley’s character volunteered o translate, saying, ‘I talk jive’.

4. (US) any thing, stuff, goings-on, situation.

[US] ‘Sl. among Nebraska Negroes’ in AS XIII:4 Dec. 317/1: Hip me to the jive! and lace my boots! mean ‘put me wise’. Thus to be hipped or to have one’s boots laced is to be aware of a situation.
[US]D. Burley N.Y. Amsterdam News 7 Dec. 20: That mink jive she was laying was worth a solid G and a half.
[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 17: The banter laid her stealers on her flappers, and booted her to the jive that the skull was trying to drop a hype on her.
[US]E. Hunter ‘Vicious Circle’ Jungle Kids (1967) 32: How goes it, man. Give us all the cool jive, mister.
[US]P. Marshall ‘Some Get Wasted’ in Clarke Harlem, USA (1971) 349: Man, cool your role [...] Like I said, the jive is on.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 123: Now them old broads will come in, in them old friggish teddies, and start doin’ the mess around— / that’s the jive in the landladies con game to tear your bankroll down.
[UK]Sun. Times Mag. 11 Sept. 51: I’d always been a sucker for that kind of jive.
[US](con. 1985–90) P. Bourjois In Search of Respect 143: The cultural clash between white ‘yuppie’ power and inner-city ‘scrambling jive’ in the service sector is much more than superficial style.

5. in drug uses.

(a) marijuana.

[US]Stuff Smith & His Onyx Club Boys [song title] Here Comes The Man With The Jive.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US](con. 1948) G. Mandel Flee the Angry Strangers 29: I like to smoke jive. You can keep reality.
[US] ‘Sl. of Watts’ in Current Sl. III:2.
[US]E.E. Landy Underground Dict. (1972).
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 13: Jive — Marijuana.

(b) (drugs) heroin; also attrib.

[US]W. Brown Monkey On My Back (1954) 174: It is little wonder the youngsters escape in the cellar clubs [...] and ‘jive joints,’ which are their only sources of amusement.
[US]H. Simmons Corner Boy 46: What started you on the jive?
[US]Rigney & Smith Real Bohemia 58: Heroin [...] is the drug of many aliases: ‘horse, H, schmeck, junk, jazz, jive’.
[US]D. Goines Street Players 147: I had some bomb stuff. Some sure-nuff good jive.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 13: Jive — [...] heroin.

(c) recreational drugs in general; also attrib.

[US]E. Gilbert Vice Trap 38: Shirley gave one of her jive parties.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 13: Jive — [...] drugs.

6. (US black/gang) wine.

[US]R.L. Keiser Vice Lords 41: ‘I got to get me some jive [wine] tonight’.

7. a second-rate person.

[US]B. Seale Seize the Time 141: The dudes [...] were just jives, [...] we’re just going to have to get uptight on them.

8. one’s personality or material possessions.

[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 98: Now if you people will be cooperative and give me a helping hand, / we can soon have all this jive in my moving van.
[US]H.E. Roberts Third Ear n.p.: jive n. [...] 3. one’s personality or belongings; e.g. You better get your jive together.

9. (US black) a gun.

[US]R.L. Keiser Vice Lords 18: Now Cool Fool had my jive [gun]. I said, ‘Fool, give me my jive!’ and Fool, he gave me my gun’ [Ibid.] 63: So they all started approaching us, and Count threw out that jive! They thought it was a Luger, and they ran.

10. a proposition, a suggestion.

[US] ‘A Pimp Toast’ in Milner & Milner (1972) 289: Well, I know you can take some jive.

In compounds

jive hive (n.)

(US teen) a juke box.

Baltimore Sun 22 June Magazine 6/5: Jive hive . . . juke box.
jive kit (n.)

(US drugs) the equipment – needle, spoon, eye-dropper, cotton – used for taking narcotics.

[US]W. Brown Teen-Age Mafia 120: The jive kit was on the dresser, but no sign of a deck or a cap.
jive talk

see separate entries.

In phrases

collar the jive (v.)

(US black) to understand every aspect of a situation.

[US]Cab Calloway Hi De Ho 16: Do you collar this jive?
[US]M.H. Boulware Jive and Sl.
[US] (ref. to 1935) Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
[US]R.C. Cruz Straight Outta Compton 24: Flip knew that Clive-nem were starting to collar the jive, so he told us his story.
no jive (also no jibe)

1. (US) honestly, no fooling.

[US]R.B. Nye ‘A Musician’s Word List’ in AS XII:1 47: The action of this trumpet really sends me and that’s no jive.
[US]N.Y. Age 16 Dec. 10/1: C.A.’s heart really belongs to Daddy; no jive, I really mean it.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 164: The weed was the only thing that kept us going, no jive.
[US]D. Burley N.Y. Amsterdam News 8 June 14: ‘I’ll tell you now and it’s no jive, to dance with me will cost you five’.
[US]F. Salas Tattoo the Wicked Cross (1981) 189: Carmen Cavallero is a bitch on the piano, Aaron. No jive.
[US] ‘Sl. of Watts’ in Current Sl. III:2 35: No jibe, exclam. No joke [...] No jive, exclam. No joke.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Airtight Willie and Me 195: I’m gonna cut her loose for you. No jive.

2. attrib. use of sense 1.

[US]L. Bangs in Psychotic Reactions (1988) 55: This was a no-jive, take-care-of-business band.
pull jive (v.)

(US black) to drink alcohol, usu. wine, in a ritualistic manner.

[US]R.L. Keiser Vice Lords 35: Vice Lords pull jive before and after gang fights, following successful hustling, and while they are hanging on the corner [...] Before any wine is drunk, a portion is poured on the ground in the letters CVL. Vice Lords say that this is for all the Lords who have been killed or who are in jail.
put on the jive (v.)

(US Black) to act in a manner that amuses others.

[US]Pittsburgh Courier (PA) 29 Oct. 11/1: Harlem Dictionary [...] Mugging. Making ’em laugh, putting on the jive.
shoot the jive (v.)

(US) to gossip, talk inconsequentially.

[US]Babs Gonzales I Paid My Dues 96: He could now lounge in the bars shooting the jive with his colleagues.