Gibe, Jibe, and Jive

Easily Confused Words and Their Meanings

jive dancing
A young dancer leaps into the air during a "jive" at the Jazz Band Ball in Hammersmith Palais, London, in 1951. (George Douglas/Getty Images)

Gibe, jibe, and jive are similar sounding words, but their meanings are quite different, with some exceptions: While some variations in usage are allowed, most are considered incorrect. A fourth word, "gybe," is an alternate spelling of the nautical term "jibe," but it is rarely used.


As both a noun and verb, the word "gibe" refers to a taunting, aggressive, rude, insulting, or derisive remark intended to have a negative effect.

In this sense, jibe is considered an acceptable alternative to gibe.

The verb "jibe" means to be in harmony or accord or to be 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 of "Gibe"

  • Tired of the bullying and constant gibes (or jibes) from her classmates, Diane stopped going to school.
  • She always takes the gibes (or jibes) with a good sense of humor.
  • It was Cathy who found her confidence and put your years of cruel gibes (or jibes) behind her.
  • "The famous gibe (or jibe) by the investor Peter Thiel ('We wanted flying cars; instead we got 140 characters') is unfair, but contains a large kernel of truth."
    (Paul Krugman, "Things to Celebrate, Like Dreams of Flying Cars." The New York Times, December 25, 2015)

    Examples of "Jibe"

    • The new initiatives for improving this organization don't jibe with the traditional staff-development process.
    • Lily and her team jibed during their practice before the big tournament.
    • "Among the reasons that more money does not equate with greater happiness is that we quickly get used to a higher income, we end up wanting even more things than we already have, and we still compare ourselves to others who have more. This jibes with lots of other research that shows the main drivers of happiness are genes (you are born that way), recent events (like a birth or wedding) and a combination of faith, family, community, and work (which provide friendships and meaning)."
      (Dan Kadlec, "Here’s How to Spend Your Way to Euphoria." Time, April 11, 2014)

      Examples of "Jive"

      • "Some of the Harlem Renaissance writers, such as Langston Hughes, capitalized on urban jive and blues forms in their works as urban jive talk became the parlance of jazz culture."
        (Paula J. Massood, "Urban Cinema" in "African Americans and Popular Culture," ed. by Todd Boyd, 2008)
      • Armstrong was now free to develop his personal style as he wished, which included a heavy dose of effervescent jive, such as "whip that thing, Miss Lil" and "Mr. Johnny Dodds, Aw, do that clarinet, boy." 
      • He suggests that Leonard's "rich dialogue" is reflected in Tarantino's "popular-culture-strewn jive."
      • That's some slick jive you just laid down tonight.
      • Soviet Delegate Andrei Vishinsky revealed in the General Assembly Thursday that he is hip to American jive.
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      Your Citation
      Nordquist, Richard. "Gibe, Jibe, and Jive." ThoughtCo, Oct. 9, 2017, Nordquist, Richard. (2017, October 9). Gibe, Jibe, and Jive. Retrieved from Nordquist, Richard. "Gibe, Jibe, and Jive." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 23, 2018).