jit·​ter·​bug | \ ˈji-tər-ˌbəg How to pronounce jitterbug (audio) \

Definition of jitterbug

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a jazz variation of the two-step in which couples swing, balance, and twirl in standardized patterns and often with vigorous acrobatics
2 : one who dances the jitterbug


jitterbugged; jitterbugging; jitterbugs

Definition of jitterbug (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to dance the jitterbug
2 : to move around or back and forth with quick often jerky movements especially to confuse or disconcert an opponent in sports

Examples of jitterbug in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw eight first-quarter passes to Tyreek Hill, a confounding All-Pro jitterbug who creates nightmares for all defenders. Mark Craig, Star Tribune, "Buccaneers defense looking to limit 'money plays' by Tyreek Hill, Chiefs," 5 Feb. 2021 As freshmen last season, Jackson and Mike Sainristil flashed their physical talents, displaying elusiveness and jitterbug-type quickness. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football will miss big-play WRs, but excited about smaller, quicker corps," 28 Sep. 2020 First-date jitterbugs come in a wide swatch of colors, ranging from extremely vibrant to very, very dull. Rachel Van Nes, The New Yorker, "Fun Facts About Love Bugs," 12 Feb. 2020 His variation of the jitterbug appealed to white kids who were forbidden to enter black clubs, Cavallo said. Ben Crandell, sun-sentinel.com, "Bandleader, rock ’n’ roll pioneer Jimmy Cavallo, of Pompano Beach, dies at 92," 3 Dec. 2019 Our generation regards political parties as a relic of an era of black-and-white television, transatlantic ocean-liners and the jitterbug. The Economist, "Party politics is dying, so make citizen movements the new unifier," 1 Nov. 2019 The Chargers' jitterbug finished with 58 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries to go along with 96 receiving yards on six catches and two touchdowns. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Missed tackles, missed kicks cost Colts in 30-24 loss to Chargers," 8 Sep. 2019 The running back unit ascends with the additions of sagacious veteran Frank Gore and multidimensional jitterbug Devin Singletary, a third-round pick from Florida Atlantic. Andy Benoit, SI.com, "Behind a Re-stocked Offensive Line, Bills’ Ground Game Is Primed to Take Off," 7 Aug. 2019 The dance and vocal arrangements by Peter Howard were especially enjoyable here, as numerous glowing, colorful jitterbugs interfered with the quartet’s journey in an attempt to fatigue them. Elizabeth Marie Himchak, Pomerado News, "REVIEW: Patio Playhouse presents charming ‘Wizard of Oz’ musical," 17 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Patrons could summon up Ellington for a coin and start jitterbugging. Manohla Dargis, New York Times, "Film Treasures, Streaming Courtesy of the Library of Congress," 3 Apr. 2020 Franzke, who loved to jitterbug as a kid, served in the Navy from 1943 to 1945, flying Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bombers off the carrier USS Saginaw Bay in the Pacific. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin World War II veteran doesn't let quarantine stop him from busting a move to Justin Timberlake tune," 6 Apr. 2020 Patti jitterbugging to a Les Paul and Mary Ford record. Los Angeles Times, "How Patti LuPone rescues her quarantined fans on Twitter," 2 Apr. 2020 Against these, Davis superimposes the bright, almost jitterbugging mosaic pattern on the mother’s spandex pants. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, "Artist Noah Davis died tragically at age 32. A New York show reveals a great lost talent.," 30 Jan. 2020 Bush caught a screen pass and jitterbugged past a diving tackler and exploded into the open field. Zach Helfand, latimes.com, "USC-Texas revisited: LenDale White and what happened after fourth-and-two," 13 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'jitterbug.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of jitterbug


1938, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1939, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for jitterbug

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The first known use of jitterbug was in 1938

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Last Updated

13 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Jitterbug.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jitterbug. Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of jitterbug

: a very lively type of dance from the 1940s

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Britannica English: Translation of jitterbug for Arabic Speakers

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