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]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.

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. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.
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.