jazz, n. and adj.
), 1900s jascz
), 1900s jasz
), 1900s jaz
), 1900s– jass
, 1900s– jazz
. (Show Less)
Origin: Of uncertain origin. Perhaps a variant or alteration of another lexical item. Etymon:
Origin uncertain; perhaps originally a variant of
Attested earliest in California, frequently in baseball contexts and as college slang. The existence of an article (with reference to use of the word in sense ) entitled ‘In praise of ‘jazz,’ a futurist word which has just joined the language’ (by E. J. Hopkins in Bulletin (San Francisco)
) 5 Apr. 28) suggests that the word was then a very recent innovation.
Apparently first applied to music in Chicago. Slightly earlier uses of the term are reported orally (some cited by D. Holbrook in Storyville 50
) 46-58), but cannot be confirmed. For a connection between Californian and Chicago uses compare:
1917 New Victor Records Jass Band & Other Dance Selections in H. O. Brunn Story Orig. Dixieland Jazz Band
viii. 92 (plate)
The Original Dixieland Jass Band...Spell it Jass, Jas, Jaz or Jazz—nothing can spoil a Jass band. Some say the Jass band originated in Chicago. Chicago says it comes from San Francisco—San Francisco being away off across the continent. Anyway, a Jass band is the newest thing in the cabarets, adding greatly to the hilarity thereof.
While the origins of jazz music (compare sense ) are popularly associated with New Orleans, evidence for early use of the word there is inconclusive;
appears to have been the preferred term (compare earlier , , and slightly earlier ; compare also discussion in Comments on Etymology 30
)). Compare the following conflicting statements (it is possible that the reporter from Variety
used a term known to him, but not in use locally):
1916 Variety 3 Nov. 20
Variety's New Orleans correspondent [reports that]..‘Jazz Bands’ have been popular there for over two years.
1919 Lit. Digest 26 Apr. 47
The phrase ‘jazz band’ was first used by Bert Kelly in Chicago in the fall of 1915, and was unknown in New Orleans.
The suggestion that the sexual sense (see sense ) was primary is unlikely, chiefly for semantic reasons, though not impossible.
A derivation < French jaser
to chatter, gossip (16th cent. in Middle French; also earlier in an apparently isolated attestation as gaser
with reference to birdsong; of uncertain origin) is also unlikely on semantic grounds. The French word (or a homonym) is apparently also occasionally attested with reference to sexual activity, although in the following example the illustrative French quotation is taken from a 17th-cent. text:
1896 J. S. Farmer Vocab. Amatoria 162
Jaser (or Jazer). To copulate; ‘to chuck a tread’. Tu as les genoux chauds, tu veux jaser.—La Comédie des proverbes.
A supposed African origin discussed in the article from which the following passage is taken was later shown to have been invented by the author:
5 Aug. iii. 3/6
Variously spelled Jas, Jass, Jaz, Jazz, Jasz and Jascz. The word is African in origin. It is common on the Gold Coast of Africa and in the hinterland of Cape Coast Castle.
The word was associated with the name of the apparently fictitious Jasbo Brown
by 1919: see
and discussion at that entry.
A suggested etymology < the female forename Jezebel
(see ), allegedly used in 19th-cent. New Orleans to denote a prostitute, cannot be substantiated, nor can a derivation < , suggested on the grounds that it may have been a perfume worn by prostitutes. Both suggestions also pose semantic problems.
A suggested etymology < Irish teas
heat (ultimately < the same Indo-European base as classical Latin tepēre
to be warm: see ) cannot be substantiated and is unlikely in view of the context of early uses of the word.
For a detailed discussion of a number of early theories concerning the word's origin, including some of those mentioned above, compare A. P. Merriam and F. H. Garner in Ethnomusicology 12
The forms jasz
are only attested in quot.
above and in texts derived from it; they are unlikely to have had any actual currency. The forms jas
went out of use before the middle of the 20th cent.
Originally U.S. slang
A. n. 2. colloquial
1917 8 Oct. 3/7
Rector's afternoon tea dance in the main dining room from 3 to 6..with Ted Lewis the Jazz King.
1918 8 Apr. 6/2
Benny and Woods on the violin and piano provide some syncopation that gets the jazz lovers going.
1922 15 Jan. 6/1
Many new vogues in music have been ushered in, none of them, however, full of life as the jazz cult.
1941 9 Dec. 6/7
A ‘jazz classic’, the ‘St. Louis Blues’, so reorchestrated, had lost its native kick.
1946 16 June 2 b/2
A jazz purist, he scorns ‘commercial’ music.
1947 May 30
‘You can't make a gentleman out of jazz’—a perfectly true statement, and one which all jazz-lovers will applaud.
1956 B. Edwards in S. Traill vi. 59
There have been five major stages in jazz-drumming during the last three and a half decades.
1957 K. Rexroth Disengagement in No. 11. 30
The innovations of bop, and of Parker particularly, have been vastly overrated by people unfamiliar with music, especially by that ignoramus,..the jazz aficionado.
1963 49 138
The essence of jazz improvisation is the spontaneous creation of a musical idea within a given chord structure.
16 May a5
The MTS Daphne set sail for Havana with jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie, Earl (Fatha) Hines and 400 tourists on board.
1987 74 71/1
Certain fairly common jazz chords such as those that use raised or lowered ninths are left out.
1992 K. J. Bindas iv. xviii. 189
Dizzy Gillespie, a living jazz legend, had similar problems a decade later playing bebop in Cab Calloway's black swing band.
2004 33 456/2
Jazz aficionados may not like this view.
2006 July–Aug. 18
The R&B star adds a passionate gospel undertow to..songs made famous by jazz queens.
1915 11 July viii. 8/1
Saxophone players since the advent of the ‘jazz blues’ have taken to wearing ‘jazz collars’.
(title of song)
4 Oct. 6
The jazziest of all jaz [sic] tunes, played on the banjo, guitar, saxaphone, violin and piano.
1953 30 Apr. 2/6
An unusual..jazz-bop album.
The year [sc. 1969] was flooded with such new combinations as jazz-rock, folk-rock, and country-rock.
1974 9 Nov. 26
A Beckified version of the currently ultra-flash jazz-funk stuff that the likes of Billy Cobham and Herbie Hancock are peddling these days.
1983 30 July 7/4
Among the ranks of Britain's few jazz-blues organists.
1995 June 64/2
One of the more satisfying house crossover genres, jazz house stomps in a club-friendly way.
2000 17 July 10/3
Those stonking jazz-funk sound-tracks with more chilli in them than soul-food.
2007 11 Jan. 125/1
We expect you're in for some superchopsy jazz-rock rather than anything remotely classical.
1917 30 July ii. 1
A combination of the sweet, dreamy tone of the Ukulele blended with that of the Tenor or ‘Jazz’ Banjo—it is simply irresistible!
1921 10 July x. 4/6
New $78.50 set jazz drums; sacrifice for $50 if taken at once.
1946 2nd Ser. 4 71
The rattling of tommy guns and the snarls of mobsters blending with the cry of the jazz clarinet.
1956 M. W. Stearns
[High Society] has become a standard solo for jazz clarinet whenever the tune is played.
1963 A. Baraka xii. 197
Basie's efforts helped move jazz piano away from the older ‘stride’ style with its heavy insistence on an almost guitar-like left hand.
1984 3 Mar. 17/2
Classic mainstream jazz trumpet from a veteran of the Count Basie orchestra.
1994 22 177/2
He still teaches jazz saxophone at the Mussorgsky College of Music.
2005 Jan. 58/2
Peterson was still a teenager when he had what he calls his first ‘bruising’ with Art Tatum, considered by many the father of jazz piano.
1917 10 June 6/4
Vocal Solo The Liberated Jazz Drummer or fun in a Junk Shop.
1924 31 Mar. 2/2
A jazz soloist..sang ‘Carolina in the Morning’ to radio fans 10,000 miles away in Melbourne, Australia.
1939 W. Hobson 30
Traditionalists accuse the jazz players..and the jazz men accuse the traditionalists.
1949 L. Feather i. 6
The single-note solo style was a complete departure from the pattern of solos in chords established by..conventional jazz guitarists.
1958 25 Jan. 102/3
Jazz-players and promoters..are so much more difficult to handle than the good old-fashioned pit and palais musicians.
1963 A. Baraka x. 146
Jelly Roll Morton, one of the first jazz pianists, was heavily influenced by the ragtime style.
1971 7 July 16/7
Louis Armstrong. The greatest jazz trumpeter of his time.
1978 91 740
Other pieces are performed by jazz vocalists and female blues singers.
1984 12 51
The jazz saxophonist cultivates a raspy tone quality.
1996 29 Apr. 8/4
French jazz clarinetist Claude Luter presented the award.
2004 24 Oct. ii. 29/1
He apparently had no desire to learn how to improvise through chord changes, the most basic obligation of a jazz saxophonist.
1918 11 Mar. 8/3
The Flemings are also a feature as is..a jazz trio that sings three separate songs at the same time.
1923 2 Oct. 1/1
They have about as much privacy as the saxophone player in a jazz quartet while the four are jazzing.
1958 J. Steinbeck p. xix
One of the finest jazz combos I ever heard.
1973 Jan. 1394/1
They know all about how brasses should phrase and fit together in a jazz ensemble.
1984 15 Nov. 15/7
Has Miss Moreau..come across my early compositions at school for jazz quintet which were so difficult to play that the quintet disbanded rather than face another rehearsal?
9 Nov. 6
Self-proclaimed death-jazz act Soil & ‘Pimp’ Sessions..are in essence a relatively straight jazz sextet with an over-eager marketing department.
1919 21 Apr. 16/3
There are sixty-five men in the band and a surprising number of instruments to produce the music that set all France jazz mad.
1939 L. Jacobs xvi. 392
Pictures had taken over the attributes and point of view of a jazz-conscious world.
1947 R. de Toledano vii. 82
The jazz-struck kids who are today the core of the non-commercial white bands.
1956 M. W. Stearns
Jazz-loving record buyers wore out the grooves.
1977 C. McKnight & J. Tobler ix. 121
Anderson's stinging jazz-tinged wah wah guitar takes the solo honours.
1986 4 292
Copland was most frequently discussed as a jazz-influenced composer as opposed to a modernist or Americanist.
1995 P. Manuel in P. Manuel et al. 251 (Gloss.)
Latin jazz , a predominantly instrumental, latter twentieth-century genre featuring jazz-oriented solos over Afro-Cuban rhythms.
26 Apr. b2
One of the smoothest bunches of jazz-minded misfits I've ever heard.
1922 18 Jan. 21
Carpenter's jazz ballet and other new ballets danced by Adolph Bolm.
1972 16 May 14/8
We have a jazz ballet by a Canadian choreographer, set to music that uses a string quartet and a rock quartet.
1993 June 32/3
Jazz ballet took over the musicals, rock 'n' roll was too noisy, TV too small and too stingy with the required sound engineering.
1916 1 May 4/4
The shriek of women's drunken laughter rivaled the blatant scream of the imported New Orleans Jass Band, which never seemed to stop playing.
1956 M. W. Stearns
The 101 Ranch, a cabaret which employed many jazz-bands, was particularly famous.
2005 1 Nov. 28/3
For those who have never encountered Macbeth, this perverse version..accompanied by the ghastly discordant noodlings of a three-piece contemporary jazz band, will be entirely incomprehensible.
1917 25 Dec. 10/3
H. Williams, Rickard, Putney, Short, Hermann and Duncan were the Jazz Club entertainment committee.
1958 25 Jan. 102/3
Our native music..still flourishes nightly in the jazz-clubs, though best in those where musicians..like to drop in for a little drinking, gossiping, watching the dancers..and perhaps sitting in with the band.
1997 H. Kureishi 2
He knew the happenin' cinemas, jazz clubs, parties.
1919 Apr. 2/1
And jazz! Ye gods! Perdition simply yawns for the jazz fan!
1928 28 Jan. 3
Every jazz fan will want this new February record.
1958 D. Halperin in P. Gammond xx. 241
Calling the young man..a jazz-fan would be off-centre: he is, rather, a jazz convert.
7 Sept. b9/1
Her father, a jazz fan, played June Christy's recording of ‘Great Scot’.
1919 16 Nov. v. 3/1
Here's a real jazz festival, introducing the world's champion girl trap drummer.
1959 ‘F. Newton’ xi. 184
‘Jazz festivals’—in Newport, Conn., in Nice, Cannes, San Remo and other European holiday resorts.
4 May ii. 29/4
Rock promoters have learned quite a bit from long-running events like jazz festivals.
1920 3 Dec.
Fatty Arbuckle in a Mont Marie jazz joint where he was greeted by cheering audiences.
1942 L. V. Berrey & M. Van den Bark §366/4
Dance hall,..jazz joint.
1996 Oct. 218
The same issue [of the magazine] introduced a new term, lifted from the lingo of jazz joints: ‘cool’.
1917 11 Sept. 5/4
Sam Sing may become a dancing teacher and by interpreting jazz chopstick arias soon gain a competence and return to Jazz land and live happily ever afterwards.
1942 L. V. Berrey & M. Van den Bark §578/2
Jazzland, the world of jazz.
2000 Feb. 190/4
Petrucciani's crisp, bluesy style and his knack for lyrical improv will be missed in jazzland.
1916 Nov. 155/1
Boisterous ‘jass’ music is played at the doors of our assembly rooms.
1941 B. Schulberg iii. 46
It made me realize again how true jazz music was, how it echoed everything that was churning inside us.
1973 19 Apr. 522/2
The excitement in jazz music is usually concerned with nerve.
2003 G. Burn
They blew twenty-five shillings in the Potomac listening to Claes's Claepigeons playing a kind of boop-de-boop jazz music that wasn't strictly to either of their tastes.
1917 5 Aug. iii. 3/7
The jazz musicians and their auditors have the most rhythmic aggressiveness.
1958 R. Horricks in P. Gammond ix. 117
The legendary Art Tatum loved to jam with the resident jazz musicians.
2004 S. Dudley iii. 47
Jazz musicians will recognize the second half of this chord progression as ‘rhythm changes’ named for the George Gershwin song ‘I Got Rhythm’.
1918 8 Dec. 4/4
A jazz opera with..an all star cast.
1970 29 Aug. 22/2
Recently, I [sc. Rolf Liebermann] commissioned a jazz opera, because I think that is a way to make contact with..young people.
1999 Apr. 51/2
When Ellington died on 24 May 1974 he had just completed a jazz opera.
[1915 22 May 17/5
The original jad orchestra for dancing.]
1916 28 Aug. 2
Techau Tavern... The Jazz Orchestra, under the leadership of Mr. George Gould, San Francisco's newest and most sensational find, for the dance lovers.
1925 July 45/1
The faint echo of a jazz orchestra in the background.
1942 L. V. Berrey & M. Van den Bark §576/27
Jazz King, Paul Whiteman, jazz orchestra leader.
1995 No. 2. 29/2
I've heard Dixon leading Free Jazz orchestras into sonic symphonic heavens. Very hardcore.
1917 7 Nov. 4
Another Jazz record that has all the old noises and a few new ones added.
1923 H. Crane 5 Dec.
We had a Victrola... Lots of jazz records, etc.
1999 8 Nov. 42/2
Jazz records have often been defined not so much by their players as by their labels.
1922 20 Aug. (Accent Mag.) 8/5
Streatside Eatery Jazz Scene, Wednesday and Thursday; 8 p.m.
1969 iv. 9/1
I was originally on the jazz scene and in a terrible state.
2006 Aug. 5/2
Here in Oxford's jazz scene..understanding such basics as chord sequences and the cycle of fifths is as essential as ever.
1916 30 Sept. 3
Estelle Harris..appears at the Grand Theater next week with her jass singers and dancers.
(title of film)
The jazz singer.
1929 A. Huxley 57
He is employed as a jazz-singer on the music-hall stage.
1969 21 Apr. 17/7
No hard boundaries exist to separate jazz singers from run-of-the-mill night club performers.
2005 26 Sept.
He is the Starbucks of music: a so-called jazz singer for people who hate jazz.
1917 30 Oct. 6/2
Lew Lewis is a really funny blackface comedian and his jazz song is a hummer.
1923 H. Crane 9 May
Marvelous jazz songs, jokes, etc.
1996 16 June a2/3
Her repertory encompassed show tunes, jazz songs, novelties.., bossa nova, and even opera.
1917 19 Aug. i. 16/6
Hotel La Salle stops playing of jazz tunes.
1960 12 505
This is a jazz tune rather than a popular song made over into jazz.
2006 30 Nov. 94/4
Expect everything from 78 rpm jazz tunes to obscure fuzz-rock.
1920 23 Nov. 2/1
We are living in a jazz age and I wonder if a jazz church ought not to be the next development.
1922 F. S. Fitzgerald
Tales of the jazz age.
1925 J. Dos Passos iii. v. 391
This young woman..led away by the temptations of cruel and voracious men and the excitement and wickedness of what has been too well named, the jazz age.
1959 T. Griffith
In the years between the Armistice and the stock-market crash, came the period we used to call..the Jazz Age.
1999 D. Haslam ii. 62
Married women, especially, had been invested with too many mundane responsibilities to enjoy the Jazz Age.
1919 B. Merrill
I'm a Jazz baby, I want to be jazzing all the time.
1920 C. Bayha
Sweet Jazz babies short and tall, Will be moochin' round the hall.
1932 17 June
I couldn't stand one of those jazz babies that anybody could get, and no girl on your level would want to marry me.
1964 M. McLuhan
ii. xxxi. 348
Baseball..will always remain a symbol of the era of the hot mommas, jazz babies..and the fast buck.
1987 5 455
Barnet, like many jazz babies who grew up in the 1920s, parlayed his tenor saxophone, raccoon coat, and taste for la dolce vita into a career of hot music and hot living.
1989 12 313
The nondrinking, nonsmoking young bride lapses into a thoroughgoing jazz baby.
2003 14 Dec. 80/1
More than 350 fashion icons, ragtraders, promoters, jazz babies, cool dudes and fresh-as-tomorrow faces frolicked at the Dally's Model Agency Christmas party.
1921 Jan. 130/1
It seems to us as absurd to find beauty in the Spoon River Anthology, in Chicago Poems, in the jazz chants of Vachel Lindsay, as it is unjust to expect beauty.
1978 C. Graham
1984 73 44/1
I use any method that works: audio-lingual dialogue memorization, dictations,..jazz chants, [etc.].
22 Dec. 104
To help children learn intonation and pronunciation of the new language, jazz chants..can be accompanied with clapping, marching, and drumming.
1992 19 Dec. 2/2
‘Anybody fancy rolling up some jazz cigarettes?’.. So they put some records on and got themselves fine and mellow.
2002 H. Ritchie
iii. v. 265
Hey, that a jazz cigarette you're smoking?
1919 23 Aug. 155
A jazz critic... As for the English in which this book is written, it is indescribable... We can hear its counterpart already in the performances of any Jazz band.
1925 15 Mar. (Mag. section) 3
The jazz critic says, ‘That's a wow.’
2003 J. Murray x. 202
The music (and some jazz critics protested it wasn't even that) moved ‘forward’, but only as echoing, resonant, hypnotic amplitudes.
1917 8 Mar. 9
Original ‘jazz’ dance and Cuben Danzon..in America's most beautiful ballroom.
1919 30 Apr. 333/3
An early bather was seen executing the Jazz-dance on the beach at Ventnor on Easter Monday.
1963 27 Dec. 852/1
In America the jazz-dance..has a validity as..a pop-art expression of one side of the national culture.
2006 16 Feb. 54/2
This specific brand of ‘-ercise’ combines elements of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates..and other programs to create a fitness experience for every age and level.
1917 18 Sept. ii. 4/3
A bunch of hectic and inflamed jazz dancers would make the bleachers at a big college game seem..peaceful.
2006 B. P. McCutchen iii. 45/1
Are you a ballerina, a jazz dancer, a Bharata Natyam dancer?
1917 18 Sept. ii. 4/3
Jazz dancing is a cross between an explosion and a foot race and is another of the crimes indirectly traceable to the jazz band.
1963 27 Dec. 852/1
The so-called jazz-dancing which has insidiously crept into our ballet repertory.
1999 D. Haslam 290
The defenders of high culture considered short skirts and jazz dancing as evidence of spiritual emptiness.
1919 Dec. 495
For Mr. Moore to withdraw in the full blast of the jazz era does seem rather..backwards.
1946 M. Mezzrow & B. Wolfe ix. 138
The Jazz Era's heyday had been here and gone.
2003 D. A. Jasen 330
The two would write many of the greatest hits of the jazz era.
[1938 14 May Sunday Mag. 8/1
There’s quite a lot to these intriguing numbers which are a sort of fusion of jazz and the classics.
1968 22 June 18/4
The group’s interest in jazz-rock fusion is evident in long solo and group improvisations.]
1976 1 Mar. b9/3
The music generated, representative of the latest wave of jazz fusions, might well be called boogie jazz.
1976 29 Aug. d15/5
Picking a careful path between jazz fusion and straight jazz, New Audiences has managed to line up three concerts for the fall season.
2006 Dec. 53/2
Neither a piano, nor a synthesiser, the advent of Keytars meant jazz fusion could finally be sexy.
1978 J. Missett & D. Z. Meilach 30
Jazz Hands are strong!
1990 10 Sept. b4/2
Lift your chins. When you hit out in your ‘T’, keep your elbow up strong, jazz hands. Pop your hip.
2000 M. Albo 46
A bunch of faggy guys in sequins..doing Bob Fosse jazz-hand routines.
8 Oct. (T2 section) 12
I love the fact that it's not Oklahoma, where you end on some big song and dance number doing your ‘jazz hands’.
1917 11 Sept. 5/3
The jazz poem tone that sounds like a cross between a boiler shop and a foundry symphony, will..find expression in the dance.
1923 M. Cowley Let. 8 Nov. in
I wrote a jazz poem in jazzy prose and swore I should write no more verse.
1960 21 Nov. 7/7
A ‘jazz poem’ read at a recital of modern poetry and jazz.
2 Oct. (Review section), 11
Backed by Nina Simone-like piano, Odetta made a beseeching jazz poem of 'Mr Tambourine Man'.
1919 27 Feb. 345
We have Jazz Poetry, or free verse, and Jazz Dancing, which is the free verse of motion.
1959 26 Mar. 567/3
In the current craze for jazz poetry a mistaken attempt is made to bend the verse to the last of the music.
10 June 33
Often the night felt like a jazz poetry reading.
1936 8 Feb. 7/6
First to be introduced was..Gloria Jackson, who did a jazz tap.
1971 16 May h7/1
Park offers dance class in jazz tap.
2000 D. Kirby
You will definitely wake to Emily's senescent jazz-tap routines.
1920 17 June 14/4
The chargers of the Horse Guards and Lancers showed remarkable proficiency in their new jazz-like caracole around the arena.
1923 K. P. Harrington ii. 48
Catullus has left us his amazing mastery of the baffling Galliambics, in the unique Attis, where we can hear, as it were, the jazz-like echo of the drums and cymbals.
It opened with a careful and precise exploration of the harmonies the four instruments could achieve in an atonal construction, but then moved into a swinging jazz-like tribute.
1999 21 Aug. (Travel section) 3/1
A series of jazz-like improvisations.
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This entry has been updated (OED Third Edition, December 2008; most recently modified version published online September 2022).
In this entry:
- jawy, adj.1654
- jay, n.a1350
- jaybird, n.1661
- Jaycee, n.1946
- jay-hawk, v.1866
- jay-hawker, n.1860
- jaywalker, n.1917
- jazel, n.1616
- jazerant | jesserant...a1400
- jazz, n. and adj.1912
- jazz, v.1914
- jazzaphonic, adj.1924
- jazzbo, n.1914
- jazzed, adj.1917
- jazzer, n.1912
- Jazzercise, n.1976
- jazzetry, n.1959
- jazzification, n.1924
- jazzified, adj.1920
- jazzify, v.1927
- jazzing, n.1917
- jazzing, adj.1917
- jazzist, n.1917
- jazzman, n.1919
- jazzophile, n.1926
- jazzophone, n.1926
- jazzy, adj.1915
- J-cloth, n.1967
- jealisom, adj.1599
- jealous, adj.?c1225
- jealouse, v.1682
- jealous-hood, n.1846
- jealously, adv.a1425
- jealousness, n.c1380
- jealouste, n.a1382
- jealousy, n.?c1225
- Jeames, n.1846
- jean, n.1495
- jeanette, n.1785
- jebel, n.1844