Where Did the Term Jazz Come From and What Did the Word For the Music Genre Mean Originally?

Jazz may be an American art form, but the word predates any application to music or sex.

It first appeared in print in 1831 as jazzing, meaning the telling of fun stories.

The first American use of jazz was in baseball as slang for enthusiasm in 1913.

Its first musical use was a year later, to describe the vigor of West Coast band leader Art Hickman.

The word jazz wasn’t used to describe black music until 1918.

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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