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Gibe, Jibe, and Jive

Commonly Confused Words

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As both a noun and a verb, gibe refers to a taunting or derisive remark. In this sense, jibe is considered an acceptable alternative to gibe.

The verb jibe means to be in accord or consistent with something. In addition, jibe (commonly spelled gybe in British English) is a nautical term that refers to the shifting of a sail. Jibe can also be used figuratively for any sudden shift of direction.

The noun jive refers to swing music, foolish talk, or the jargon of hipsters. As a verb, jive means to dance, talk, or mislead. Don't confuse jive with jibe.

Examples

  • Tired of the bullying and constant gibes [or jibes] from her classmates, Diane stopped going to school.

  • The new initiatives for improving this organization don't jibe with the traditional staff-development process.

  • On Sunday afternoons, my grandparents listen to jive, but they don't dance much anymore.

Practice Exercises

(a) The numbers in your survey don't _____ with those in the annual report.

(b) Napoleon's _____ that England is a nation of shopkeepers hardly applies any longer.

(c) "For a twitchy, perversely funny stretch, Joaquin Phoenix mumbled and fidgeted, softly, often monosyllabically, responding as Mr. Letterman’s formulaic _____ grew testy." (Manohla Dargis, The New York Times, Sep. 9, 2010)

Answers to Practice Exercises

Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words

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