Cut of Your Jib

Meanings of “Cut of Your Jib”

The phrase “cut of your jib” means the demeanor or general appearance of a person. It can even imply a specific trait that makes a person prominent.

Origin of “Cut of Your Jib”

A jib is a part of a sailing ship which is a triangular sail set lying between the jib boom and fore-topmast head. The phrase “cut of your jib” is stated to have been first used by Sir Walter Scott in his novel, St. Ronan’s Well, which was published in 1824. The phrase in the novel goes thus; “If she disliked what the sailor calls the cut of their jib.”

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Mr. Superliminal by Shadrow

You like children
Then buy children
You like authority
Then buy authority
You like commercialism
Then buy commercialism
You like the cut of my jib
Then buy the cut of my jib

The speaker in these lyrics addresses his beloved, saying that she can purchase whatever she likes and that she must go for that. The speaker also adds that, even if she wants to purchase commercialism and character, she can do that too. The phrase has been used as a denotation in the last two lines but it also seems a metaphor for some commodity in the last line.

Example #2

My Cleaner by Maggie Gee

Mary absorbs this advice, and smiles. She will enjoy being ruthless with Vanessa’s garden. ‘Trevor, I like the cut of your jib,’ she says, and pats him on the shoulder. But Trevor sits lost in his own thoughts. Trevor has never been ruthless with anyone. Trevor has given Vanessa her head. Perhaps he should have done more for Justin. Perhaps it is not too late to try. ‘You know the boy, Mary. You’re close to Justine. Do you think he’s well enough to give me a hand?’

This paragraph represents Mary talking to Trevor. She pats him on the back to applaud his character with this phrase. However, he is lost in his own thoughts, paying little attention to her. He abruptly realizes that she is actually asking him to join her to Justin. The phrase is an extended metaphor for flattery.

Example #3

Stories About Storytellers by Douglas Gibson

He only came to Toronto once in my time, and I vividly remember the short, slim man in the white Stetson who lip up every room with his enthusiasm. I saw him being interviewed by the Toronto Star’s book man, Peter Sypnowich, and at the end heard Bob express his pleasure at meeting him by telling the surprised journalist, “I like the cut of your jib!”

In these lines, the narrator talks about another person about how he comes to Toronto, meets Stetson, and then goes to the Toronto Star to meet Peter Sypnowich. This person called Bob, then, meets the journalist and tells him that he likes him using this phrase. The phrase has been used in its literal meanings.

Example #4

The Beach of Falesa by Robert Louis Stevenson

“I don’t know that she is,” said Case. “I believe she’s as right as the mail. Keeps to herself, don’t go round with the gang, and that. O, no, don’t you misunderstand me – Uma’s on the square.” He spoke eager, I thought, and that surprised and pleased me. “Indeed,” he went on, “I shouldn’t make so sure of getting her, only she cottoned to the cut of your jib.

In this stanza, Case is talking to a lady about instructions that he is to give him about Uma and others. Although he states that he is not sure, he adds that she has made herself very good, using this phrase. The phrase is used with its direct meaning.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “The rejection of the proposal most probably depends on the cut of your jib in Freddy’s views. He is the one you need to impress.”

Example #2: “Whether you like it or not, the fact is that you would have to show an effective cut of your jib, or you will lose in the pageant competition, for, after all, it is the show of appearances. If you have no cut of jib, you are definitely going to lose.”

Example #3: “All of a Sudden, Larry appeared in a specific cut of his jib like that of a wild lion and started dominating all of his opponents one by one through his confident persona.”

Example #4: “When Bob shows his cut of jib in a mournful state, almost all of his friends and foes surrender and pay tribute to his situation.”

Example #5: “Cutting your sad jib at this hour when the officer is quite angry is the best time. The judge might end up showing some mercy.”