Discuss word origins and meanings.

Re: gig

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon May 06, 2013 10:51 am

tony h wrote:One here from A dictionary of modern slang, cant, and vulgar words, used at the present ... by John Camden Hotten
Gig: fun, frolic, spree.
"in search of lark, or some delicious gig,
The mind delights on, when 'tis in prime twig."
from Randall's diary 1820

I'd like to find this diary entry!
It appears in Google Books under the title Jack Randall's Diary of Proceedings at the House of Call for Genius. Edited by Mr. Breakwindow. To which are added, several of Mr B.'s minor pieces.

However, Google Books names the author as Thomas Moore, who I worked out must actually be Thomas Moore the Irish poet and 'Ireland's national bard' (and hence is not to be confused with inter alia Sir Thomas More, the English councillor to Henry VIII).

The fragment you quoted, Tony, is from a narrative poem that is ostensibly about boxing (but is actually a political allegory), and is absolutely laden with colourful antique slang; but it has at least been annotated with some helpful footnotes by the author.
Signature: -- Looking up a word? Try OneLook's metadictionary (--> definitions) and reverse dictionary (--> terms based on your definitions)8-- Contribute favourite diary entries, quotations and more here8 -- Find new postings easily with Active Topics8-- Want to research a word? Get essential tips from experienced researcher Ken Greenwald

Re: gig

Post by tony h » Mon May 06, 2013 6:04 pm

Cheers Erik.

Another interesting one:
from A dictionary of slang, jargon & cant embracing English, American, and Anglo-Indian slang, pidgin English, tinker's jargon and other irregular phraseology.
Compiled and edited by Albert Barrère and Charles G. Leland. 1889, Ballantyne Press

Gigger (tailors), sewing-machine ;
from "to gig," to make a noise.


Gyger or jigfger (thieves), a door.
Grose has gigger, a latch or door; "dub the gigger," open the door; '' gigger dubber," the turnkey of a prison. A door, being for a thief an obstacle to be overcome, must be connected in his mind with the divers noises it creates when forced open, i.e., the creaking of the hinges, clatter of bolts, grinding of keys in the lock. Hence the probable origin of gigger or jigger, from the provincialism to "gig," to make a noise. French rogues call a door or gate tine lourde, a prison door being for them a /(cary obstacle. It has been suggested that jigger is a form of the gypsy stigga, a gate.

[There are transcription errors in the scanned-in text above -- EK]

I have just found this title but I don't have access to the text:

Gig : Americans talk about their jobs at the turn of the millennium / edited by John Bowe, Marisa Bowe & Sabin Streeter ; with Daron Murphy and Rose Kernochan
Signature: tony

I'm puzzled therefore I think.

Re: gig

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Mar 07, 2015 6:41 am

I started this posting after I saw it listed in active topics a couple of days ago and I thought it looked familiar, but when I went to look for it today it was gone, and when I did a WW search nothing showed up. And then I remembered why nothing might have shown up in a WW search. A Wordwizard search does not recognize 3-letter words. When I used the Google search (up in the right hand corner of the Clubhouse page) I came up with gig hits.

After tons of very interesting gig discussion I found in WW, I didn’t think there was anything left to say -- and there ain't much. But then I thought it would be interesting to just take a look at Jonathan Lighter’s listings in the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang as suggested in Michael Quinion’s World Wide Words, which I referenced in my April 25, 2013 contribution to this topic (see above).

So, I just followed Lighter’s definition path to today’s gig (Note: There is no claim that this series of definitions comprises an etymology), but I thought it was interesting, although it didn’t do a hell of a lot in our search for the Holy Grail.

This evening when I went to post what I had come up with, the recent gig posting was gone! Maybe Phil or Erik thought we had enough of this shit. (<:) So, this is posted to the latest gig posting I could find.

From the Historical Dictionary of American Slang by Jonathon Lighter

(4)GIG noun [perhaps alteration of ‘GAG’ (3a) noun [1907], influenced by gig (2).] 1a) business affair; state of affairs (hence) undertaking or event.

GAG (3a) noun [1890]: A variety of action or behavior; practice, business, method, etc.

GIG(2) noun [1847] [arbitrary application of gig ‘a two-wheeled, one-horse carriage] (in policy gambling) a set of usually three numbers played by a bettor; (broadly) a policy bet. [[This doesn’t fit, but nobody said it had to]]

GIG(4) b) [1965](one’s preference) or special interest. c) [1970] practice or action; routine.

GIG (2a) noun [1908]: A job; occupation. [in current use influenced by (2b) below]

2b) [1926] Specifically, an engagement, especially for a single evening, to perform jazz, rock, or other popular music.

“These days, gig can have a wide range of senses, including a fairly new one that refers to any short-term paying commission or job; it need not be associated with music or performance, but it does preclude permanent full-time employment.”

Some of the valiant guesses by other contributors above also make and don’t make sense, but, alas, we may never know the real scoop and we have to live with “Origin Uncertain.”. But if you really want to work at it some more, here is Jonathan Lighter’s first listing for the noun gig:

GIG 1 noun [origin unknown]: The vagina. [1698-99 “B.E.” Dictionary of the Canting Crew

Chew on that one for a while and see if you can unearth a connection to the modern meaning. Hmm. Vagina ——> musical gig.

Ken – March 6, 2015 (gagging on gig)

Re: gig

Post by Bobinwales » Sat Mar 07, 2015 5:34 pm

Sorry to have messed you around Ken. I had completely forgotten about this thread, and until you reminded me now, about the search facility not recognising three letter words, so I started a new one. When Erik pointed me to this one, I asked that the one I had just stated be deleted because it had no earthly use.

I am very grateful for the research.
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Re: gig

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Mar 07, 2015 7:36 pm

Bob,No sweat and I just noticed that Lighter's noun 1 gives new meaning to a one-night gig!

Ken – March 7, 2015

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