The Grammarphobia Blog

“Don’t give me that jive.”

Q: I have a pet peeve about “jive” and “jibe.” People use them interchangeably all the time, but don’t they mean different things?

A: You’re right. “Jibe” and “jive” have different meanings and aren’t interchangeable.

“Jibe” is a verb meaning something like “agree” or “be consistent with,” as in, “Those figures don’t jibe.”

“Jive” can be either a noun or a verb, as in “Don’t give me that jive” or “Don’t jive me.” It can refer to jazz or jazz jargon, but it usually refers to deceptive or nonsensical talk.

There’s another word, “gibe,” that is both noun and verb and is used to refer to teasing, taunting, or caustic remarks, as in “I ignored his rude gibes” or “He tends to gibe when he’s annoyed.”