Popdust, “Thanks To Will Smith, The World Has Been Gettin’ Jiggy For 15 Years”

January 29, 2013

Maura Johnston, “Thanks To Will Smith, The World Has Been Gettin’ Jiggy For 15 Years” (Popdust, Jan. 29, 2013)

“I have to admit “(getting) jiggy” had pretty much fallen off my radar,” said Boston Globe language columnist and Visual Thesaurus executive producer Ben Zimmer. “At the time of the song’s popularity, it seemed destined for immediate obsolescence, like so much pop-culture slang. (In fact, it was in the running for ‘Least Likely to Succeed’ in the American Dialect Society’s 1998 Word of the Year voting.) When the OED saw fit to include it in a 2004 update, they gave the definition for the relevant sense of ‘jiggy’ as ‘excitedly energetic or uninhibited, often in a sexual manner,’ with ‘to get jiggy’ coming to mean “‘to engage in sexual activity.’

“I was surprised to see that the sexual sense is still quite common, at least in UK tabloids,” said Zimmer. The Sun used the phrase twice on the same day last week—once in a listicle counting down notable instances of public sex and once in a gossip item about Kim Kardashian; the UK version of the free paper Metro deployed it when talking about Beyoncé and Jay-Z; and The Sun (again!) used it in a story about people having sex at work.

“These are all uses of ‘get jiggy’ or ‘get jiggy with (someone),’ Zimmer noted. “When it’s used in the form ‘get jiggy with it’ (more consciously recalling the song), then the meaning tends to be ‘dance uninhibitedly’ or something similar.”

Read the rest here.

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