cut of one's jib

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



Different shapes of jib sails.

From maritime traditions, alluding to the identification of far-off ships by the shape of their sails, as in the Naval Chronicles (1805) “From the cut of her sails an enemy.” Used idiomatically of a person from early 19th century, attested 1824, possibly influenced by similarity of triangular jib sails to a person’s nose.[1]


cut of one's jib

  1. (idiomatic) A person's general appearance, manner, or style.
    • 1824, Walter Scott, chapter 1, in St. Ronan's Well:
      Her reception of these was as precarious as the hospitality of a savage nation to sailors shipwrecked on their coast. . . . [I]f they seemed pleased with what they got, and little disposed to criticise or give trouble, it was all very well. But . . . if she disliked what the sailor calls the cut of their jib—or if, above all, they were critical about their accommodations, none so likely as Meg to give them what in her country is called a sloan.
    • 1896, Robert Barr, chapter 8, in A Woman Intervenes:
      I have seen that girl on the deck, and I like the cut of her jib. I like the way she walks. Her independence suits me.
    • 1922, James Joyce, Ulysses, Episode 16:
      Though a well preserved man of no little stamina, if a trifle prone to baldness, there was something spurious in the cut of his jib that suggested a jail delivery.
    • 2003, Ted Bell, Hawke: A Novel[1], →ISBN, page 278:
      "You don't like me much, do you?"
      "Let's just say I don't like the cut of your jib, Mr. Tate."
    • 2013, Matthew Berry, Fantasy Focus Football:
      "It's so frustrating, I mean, Cordarrelle Patterson, I really like the cut of his jib!"

Usage notes[edit]

  • Often used in form “to like the cut of someone’s jib”, as in “I like the cut of your jib.”


  1. ^ Cut of your jib” in Gary Martin, The Phrase Finder, 1997–, retrieved 26 February 2017.