heebie-jeebies

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English[edit]

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Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

The earliest found occurences of spelling variants (it is not established whether the first one coined the term or committed to print an earlier oral expression):

  • In 1923, the spelling "heeby jeebys" was used by U.S. cartoonist Billy De Beck in his comic strip Barney Google (New York American, 26 October 1923).
  • In 1925, the spelling "heebee-jeebees" was used in U.S. magazine Ladies' Home Journal (Vol. 42, Part 2, p. 44).
  • In 1926, the spelling "heebie jeebies" was used by U.S. singer Louis Armstrong for his single "Heebie Jeebies" (written by Boyd Atkins).
  • In 1928, the spelling "heebee-geebees" was used in U.S. article "We All Have the Heebee-Geebees" by G. M. Keller of Swift & Company (Modern School Store, Vol. 11, p. 269 via Google Books).
  • In 1956, the spelling "heeby jeebies" was used by U.S. singer Little Richard on the cover of his homonymous SP record (and the hyphenated spelling "heeby-jeebies" on its vinyl disc itself).

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˈhiː.biːˌdʒiː.biːz/

Noun[edit]

heebie-jeebies (plural only)

  1. (US, idiomatic) A general feeling of anxiety, fear, uneasiness, or nausea.
    I don't mind worms, but spiders give me the heebie-jeebies.
    When I see that weird house, I get the heebie-jeebies.

Usage notes[edit]

Most commonly used with the verbs "give" and "get" (as in in the expressions "get the heebie-jeebies" and "give someone the heebie-jeebies").

Synonyms[edit]

See also[edit]