What does the expression “to dislike the cut of one’s jib” mean and Where does it come from?

The expression “to dislike the cut of one’s jib” means: To dislike, or be chary of, the appearance of a person, or his character; to have a feeling of distrust.

Only occasionally do we use the opposite, “like.”

The saying arose from nautical terminology of the seventeenth century, when the jib, the large triangular sail stretching forward from top and bottom of the foremast to the outer end of the boom, or to the bowsprit, was introduced on sailing vessels.

Certain characteristic shapes of this jib served, among sailors, to identify the nationality of a vessel, and, therefore, whether the vessel might be friendly or hostile.

But it was not, however, until the early nineteenth century that Southey, Walter Scott, Marryat, and others began to give the phrase its modern meaning.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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