I like the cut of your jib

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moodywop

Banned
Italian - Italy
Thank you for granting me asylum.

Can I like the cut of your jib be used only with reference to the way somebody behaves or also about their style of speech(I've heard it used in the latter context)?

Is it used in both BE and AE? Any clues to the etymolgy?

grazie

Carlo
 
  • cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Hi Carlo,

    It's nautical... and it refers more to style than to a given statement.

    From the online etymology dictionary: Said to indicate a ship's character to an observant sailor as a strange vessel approaches at sea; also nautical slang for "face," hence cut of his jib.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    From the WR English dictionary:

    noun
    1 jib
    any triangular fore-and-aft sail (set forward of the foremast)

    The cut of a jib is the way a sail is trimmed, or adjusted...hence in reference to a person, it is their style and manner.

    ciao,
    Cuchu
     

    Isotta

    Senior Member
    English, Hodgepodge
    Well, I think it traditionally refers to appearance, to mean, "you make a good impression," but one could likely use it to mean, "I like your style."

    It is sailing jargon. The jib is the small triangular sail at the bow end of a boat.

    No idea if it is AE or BE. Since there is a bit of ahoy about it, the expression may well cross all ponds.

    Isotta.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Quick look around - not a BE-speaker in sight.

    This is very, very much a British thing. <in full, no BE nonsense here>
    Is it possible that it may have crossed the pond, what?


    Harrumph! <snorting into his pink gin, the commodore stands overlooking the bay.
    His sky-blue eyes surveying the fleet; left hand in pocket of blazer with heavily gold-braided pocket.

    [Commodore] Who WAS that colonial yahoo you brought in yesterday, Cholmondley, couldn't you tell by the cut of his jib that he wouldn't fit in?

    [Cholmondley] My most sincere apologies Commodore.
    It seems there was an error in the message he sent requesting a meeting with you.
    I could have sworn it said he was CinCFleet.

    [Commodore] Keep the bounder in irons for a week, Chum, that should put him in his place.

    <Commodore and Cholmondley relax once more, staring over the bay at the dozen or so miscellaneous weekend dinghys that make up the yacht club's fleet.>
     

    Isotta

    Senior Member
    English, Hodgepodge
    panjandrum said:
    Quick look around - not a BE-speaker in sight.

    This is very, very much a British thing. <in full, no BE nonsense here>
    Is it possible that it may have crossed the pond, what?
    Perhaps BE and barmy Americans? I feel like Hemingway would have said it.

    Isotta.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Was that H.M.S. Proboscis seen gliding into port?

    Cut of His Jib
    In the days of sailing ships, nationality and rigs could often be distinguished by their jibs. A Spanish ship, for example, had a small jib or none at all. Large French ships often had two jibs and English ships normally had only one.
    The nose, like the jib of a ship arriving in harbor, is the first part of the person to arrive at a designated place. Figuratively, it implies the first impression one makes on another person.
    http://www.cffc.navy.mil/customs.htm#cutofhisjib
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Yacht club indeed.

    A couple or so posts into the thread, I sensed an invitation to add a trans-pondian bounder's perspective, and came up with an eerily similar skinnerio.

    It's the sort of thing an unhip country-club type might say rather condescendingly to a youngster-- in a TV comedy skit from times now mercifully past. I mean the kind of skit where the country-clubber wears an Oyster-Bay yacht/polo-club blazer with embroidered gold-thread naval motif-- and an ascot. Not just "golf clothes," which is a different bit. Oh, and a white all-purpose military officer's hat, if they've got one in the properties trunk that isn't squashed all out of shape.

    What say? Hell, use it anyway-- he's supposed to look silly.
     

    Isotta

    Senior Member
    English, Hodgepodge
    It is a bit stilted these days, isn't it?

    But what if you said, "from the cut of his jib," to mean "[judging] from his appearance?"

    Isotta.
     

    moodywop

    Banned
    Italian - Italy
    What a fascinating discussion! I want to thank you all. As an asylum seeker, how many years before I can apply for citizenship?:)


    Which reminds me. Panji. When I lived in London I had to register as an alien:) at the Aliens Registration Office in Lamb's Conduit Street. I half expected to find a spaceship outside. Do they still have that office in London?

    Carlo

    PS I'm proud to still have my alien registration paper after 25 years
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    As we are well off course here, and the SS Topic has run aground on the Foxfire Shoals,
    I'll wonder if the mate knows that lamb's conduit is oft used for sausage casing on foreign shores. One of those BE/AE things, no doubt.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Conduit! Ha ha hah! But I guess we do call guts "plumbing" in AE. Conduit tends to be air ducting, or the metal tubing you run electrical line through, to protect it from the finish carpenters sinking nails in the walls and partitions anywhich way they please. Not to mention the eventual homeowners, hanging pictures.

    As for the S.S. Topic, I did mention line somewheres amidpost-- the stuff well-cut jibs are trimmed with. See? It all ties in rather trimly, wot?
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Boring, out of context comment coming up - please prepare yourselves.
    Lamb's Conduit Street was named after philanthropist William Lamb.
    In 1577, he improved the conduit that brought fresh water to the people of area.
    Interesting, also off-topic, information coming up.
    I searched for the information moodywop asked for and at first found:
    Вестимо где... Вот здесь: Alien's Registration Office, 10 Lamb's Conduit Street, London WC1N 3NX (Tel 0207 230 1208). The office is open Monday-Friday 9am-4.45. (Nearest underground station Holborn).
    On further investigation, looking for an official site confirming its continued existence, I was very disappointed to learn that this office is now reserved for use only by extra-terrestrials and has been relocated to the dark side of the moon.

    People-formerly-known-as-aliens are now advised:
    Если ты находишься в Лондоне, то регистрироваться надо в Metropolitan Police Overseas Visitors Records Office или по старому Alien Registration Office по адресу Brandon House, 180 Borough High St., London SE1 1LH. Если не в Лондоне - то в местном Police Office.
    What a come down - and it's not even in Sausage-skin Street.
    It must have been such fun to tell your friends that you worked in the Aliens Registration Office!!
    Busy day at the office?
    Not really - couple of Venusians and a hitch-hiker from Pluto.
    We're expecting a huge rush from that new planet they discovered the other day, though.

    Final bit of off-topic information:
    Alien Registration Office is also the title of a CD released in 2000 by AMP Studio. Not a lot of people know that.
    I was going to list the tracks as well but perhaps not....

    Meandering gently back towards the general area of the topic in the vain hope that this will save the post from the purge:
    "...cut of his jib.." does, genuinely, appear in conversation from time to time. Now OK, some of the people I would have conversations with share some of my own eccentricities; but in the right context this would pass entirely without comment and would have expressed and conveyed meaning perfectly.
    It's useful in reference to prospective job candidates or customer account representatives (salesmen:p ).

    Thanks, Cuchu, for the explanation behind the meaning.:) It is such a natural saying to me that I had never thought to wonder about its origins.
     

    cirrus

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Cut of a person's jib is old fashioned and to me implies a red faced bloke, more than a tad overweight who lacks in discretion what he compensates for in (over)confidence.

    As for the exact origin, as a sailor I can pinpoint the technical meaning. If your foresail is set properly you get the smoothest flow of air to the mainsails and thus the maximum amount of power from them. If the jib is in too tight it works as a brake, out too far and it flaps about and looks a mess. Even out in the middle of the sea the wind is often shifting minute by minute so if someone's jib isn't set just right it shows they aren't thinking or are sloppy.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    ...errmmm...

    The Oxford English Dictionary supports Cuchu's explanation in post #9

    b. the cut of one's jib (colloq.): one's personal appearance, countenance, or look. Orig. a sailor's figure of speech, suggested by the prominence and characteristic form of the jib of a ship.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Confession time:

    I read books.

    Thus my head is full of odd, semi-odd, hemi-demi-semi-odd phrases.

    I sometimes confuse what for normal humanoids, non-alien, is passive vocabulary, with active vocabulary, and the oddities spill out in conversation.

    Two or three nights before this thread began, I was having dinner with neighbors, and actually used the phrase, "I like the cut of his jib." The face of the fellow sitting next to me lit up with a bright smile. He remarked that, as a sailing instructor, he really enjoyed hearing that phrase. And, para postre, I got invited to go out on his boat.
     

    cirrus

    Senior Member
    UK English
    panjandrum said:
    ...errmmm...

    The Oxford English Dictionary supports Cuchu's explanation in post #9

    b. the cut of one's jib (colloq.): one's personal appearance, countenance, or look. Orig. a sailor's figure of speech, suggested by the prominence and characteristic form of the jib of a ship.
    Panj, next you'll be telling me that the OED wasn't written by people who lived on boats!
     

    Derringer

    Member
    USA
    USA, English, Portuguese, German, Latin
    cuchuflete said:
    Confession time:

    I read books.

    Thus my head is full of odd, semi-odd, hemi-demi-semi-odd phrases.

    I sometimes confuse what for normal humanoids, non-alien, is passive vocabulary, with active vocabulary, and the oddities spill out in conversation.

    Two or three nights before this thread began, I was having dinner with neighbors, and actually used the phrase, "I like the cut of his jib." The face of the fellow sitting next to me lit up with a bright smile. He remarked that, as a sailing instructor, he really enjoyed hearing that phrase. And, para postre, I got invited to go out on his boat.
    What, no quasi-odd phrases? By the way, if your sailor friend liked that remark, try, "Shiver me timbers, and blow me down." He'll worship you.
     

    JennR

    Senior Member
    US English
    I've heard it used in New England. Primarily by folks who have a nautical tradition in their families. My husband for example, on his mother's side of the family had quite a few sea captains in their family tree.

    J
     

    Derringer

    Member
    USA
    USA, English, Portuguese, German, Latin
    JennR said:
    I've heard it used in New England. Primarily by folks who have a nautical tradition in their families. My husband for example, on his mother's side of the family had quite a few sea captains in their family tree.

    J
    In mine, we've had quite a few lumberjacks in the family boat. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) :D
     

    Fifi R Steinweg

    New Member
    Born in UK, live in US, speak Brit. Eng.
    What seems to have been missed about the cut of one's jib, is that it is normally used in a negative sense to indicate that one doesn't like the look of another; that he appears to be of questionable character. Just like saying "I don't like the look of him", but with a little more empasis or gravity. Normally in the kind of language ascribed to crusty old colonels:

    "Dash it all, sir! I don't mind telling you that I don't like the cut of your jib. No, I don't like it one bit. And what's more, you're getting my dander up, you boundah! I ought to jolly well take you outside and give you a sound thrashing!"

    or

    "The rotting blighter had his hand on my daughter's knee, if you please! Well, I didn't like the cut of his jib in the least from the very outset; now I'd like to take the scoundrel outside and thrash him to within an inch of his life. Spot in the army; that's what he needs. Make a man of him."

    A British person is hardly likely to say "I like the cut of his jib", it's just not cricket. It would be saying "Oh yes, I like the look of him" - when would anyone say such a thing?
     

    JennR

    Senior Member
    US English
    I think panjandrum made note of the negative aspect here....
    [Commodore] Who WAS that colonial yahoo you brought in yesterday, Cholmondley, couldn't you tell by the cut of his jib that he wouldn't fit in?

    [Cholmondley] My most sincere apologies Commodore.
    It seems there was an error in the message he sent requesting a meeting with you.
    I could have sworn it said he was CinCFleet.
    ;)
     

    cirrus

    Senior Member
    UK English
    What seems to have been missed about the cut of one's jib, is that it is normally used in a negative sense to indicate that one doesn't like the look of another... Normally in the kind of language ascribed to crusty old colonels:

    "Dash it all, sir! I don't mind telling you that I don't like the cut of your jib. No, I don't like it one bit. And what's more, you're getting my dander up, you boundah! I ought to jolly well take you outside and give you a sound thrashing!"

    or

    "The rotting blighter had his hand on my daughter's knee, if you please! Well, I didn't like the cut of his jib in the least from the very outset; now I'd like to take the scoundrel outside and thrash him to within an inch of his life. Spot in the army; that's what he needs. Make a man of him."

    A British person is hardly likely to say "I like the cut of his jib", it's just not cricket. It would be saying "Oh yes, I like the look of him" - when would anyone say such a thing?
    I think you are right on the money with the way you describe the phrase and you're right too in how fusty and comic book fifties (at best) it sounds.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Funny this thread should have re-surfaced just now.

    A young lady of my acquaintance has just left the office having described a meeting she attended yesterday. She and a couple of other colleagues had been to a product presentation. She explained her reservations about the product but was very positive about the people. They were animated, enthusiastic, interested, proud of their organisation, and most of all, she said, "I just liked the cut of their jib."
     
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