Almost every day, my grandpa stops by our house to say hello. This is because he goes to a senior center that is on the same street as the one where our house is located. He doesn’t come by on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays. Meals are not served on the weekends and on Fridays he bums around with his girlfriend, being that I can’t think of a better word for her.
He comes to say hi, see how we are doing, and even visits the dogs unless the weather is bad or cold and we tell him to not bother with coming.
When the weather is nice, my mom, sister, and I will all sit outside on our porch swing and watch the dogs play while we wait for him to come. Woofles knows when it is time to go outside to wait for him and barks at the door.
Anyway, one time when he came by, I can remember him saying, “I like the cut of your jib.” I didn’t bother asking him what it meant because it is difficult for him to hear things and he often has problems with his hearing aid.
At other times, he has said, “I like your style,” so I figured that it means the same thing. When I look up the meaning of “cut of your jib,” it means “one’s style or demeanor,” so it seems that this was the correct assumption.
My grandpa served in the Navy during World War II, so it doesn’t surprise me that the origin of the phrase “cut of your jib” is a nautical one.
A jib is a triangular sail on a ship. It is not any triangular sail, though. It is a triangular sail that is set between the foretopmast mast boom and the jib head. These terms are not going to be well-known by the general public, but the terms will be known by sailors and sailing enthusiasts.
Each country has its own style of jib. This meant that nationality of a boat or a ship could be determined by the jib. While there could be an opinion about the way the jib was cut itself, it was more likely that a sailor had an opinion about the people who were aboard the ship by knowing the nationality.
The figurative use of the phrase became popular in the 19th century. An example can be seen in the 1824 work St. Ronan’s Well by Sir Walter Scott. He wrote, “If she disliked what the sailor calls the cut of their jib.”
While there is no authenticity to the claim, the phrase may allude to the triangular shape of noses because of the triangular shape of a jib.
Martin, G. (n.d.). Cut of your jib. The meanings and origins of sayings and phrases . Retrieved February 9, 2011, from http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/cut-of-your-jib.html