No jive or gibes, you jibe?

December 30, 1993|By Rob Kyff | Rob Kyff,The Hartford Courant

"Should you say 'His figures don't jive with mine' or 'His figures don't jibe with mine'?" a student asked the other day before class.

Since my knowledge didn't jibe with the data he requested, I resorted to teacher jive: "That's a good question," I replied. "It's // very complex, though. Not enough time to explain it here in the hallway. Stop by my office tomorrow."

Racing home to my dictionary, I discovered:

* "Gibe" means to taunt, heckle or jeer someone. It's somewhere between "deride" and "kid."

* In sailing, "jibe" means to shift a sail from one side to the other in order to change direction (tack). It also means to be in agreement or accord, as in "your definition jibes with mine."

But, to jibe just a bit, "jibe" has long been an accepted alternative spelling for "gibe."

* "Jive," which originally meant jazz music or the slang used by jazz musicians, has been extended to any deceptive, nonsensical or glib talk. Hey, like, man, you dig? Thus, we say, "They were just talking jive."

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