I am going to let Home Simpson introduce today’s Wonder Why Wednesday.
You often hear people say, “I like the cut of your jib.” This means they like your style or your attitude. Much like Homer, I have no clue what a jib is.
Where does that saying come from? What exactly is a jib and how does one get cut?
Let’s find out…
According to Phrases.org, a jib is the triangular sail set found between the head and the boom on a sailboat. Years ago, ships featured more than one jib sail and each country had its own style of jib. The nationality of a sailboat, and one’s opinion of it, would be greatly influenced by the style of jib.
So, the phrase “cut of your jib” quite literally meant, I like the style of your boat. This saying became popular in areas other than shipping in the 19th century. It was used by Sir Walter Scott in St. Ronan’s Well (1824):
“If she disliked what the sailor calls the cut of their jib.”
While I know very little about sailing, it makes sense that the phrase applies to appearance. Like ships that had their own unique sails, each of us have our own unique style, or jib.
That being said, I am still a little uneasy about using the word jib.
I have often thought that jib was a somewhat risqué sounding word. It just always felt that someday a rapper would take the word jib and turn it into a x-rated song. Maybe something along the lines of “I like big jibs and I cannot lie.”
But after looking at some of the other parts of a sailboat (listed below), jib is actually quite docile. Cut of your jib sounds much better than “I like the cut of your rudder” or “I like the cut of your boom.”
Photo credits: Wikipedia & Wikipedia