jit·​ter | \ˈji-tər \

Definition of jitter 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 jitters plural : a sense of panic or extreme nervousness had a bad case of the jitters before his performance

2 : the state of mind or the movement of one that jitters

3 : irregular random movement (as of a pointer or an image on a television screen) also : vibratory motion


jittered; jittering; jitters

Definition of jitter (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to make continuous fast repetitive movements

2 : to be nervous or act in a nervous way

Examples of jitter in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Copper prices slipped to a six-month low Thursday amid jitters about economic growth in China, the world’s dominant consumer of the metal. David Hodari, WSJ, "Copper Falls to 2018 Low After Weak Chinese Data," 28 June 2018 When the governor took office, the state was in recession, with unemployment near double digits, jitters about exiting businesses and thousands of families tossed out of their homes by foreclosure. New York Times, "In the Race for Governor, How Far Left Is Colorado Willing to Go?," 22 June 2018 Namibia’s own currency has suffered from global investors’ jitters about South Africa’s, to which it is pegged. The Economist, "A long way from homeChinese workers and traders in Africa," 17 May 2018 With farmers already struggling with low commodity prices and market jitters over President Donald Trump's tariff threats, farm-state senators of both parties stressed ahead of Thursday's vote that the legislation's passage was crucial. Caitlin Dewey, chicagotribune.com, "Senate passes sweeping farm bill by wide margin, setting up fight with House," 29 June 2018 The performance suggests that trade jitters, which have stalked a shaky stock market all year, won’t easily overwhelm a focus on solid economic fundamentals. Tory Newmyer, Washington Post, "The Finance 202: Stock market shrugs off Trump's trade war," 10 July 2018 The four-week moving average of claims, which smooths out weekly jitters, posted a slight increase of 2,500 to 222,250. Harriet Torry, WSJ, "US Jobless Claims Declined in Week Ended May 26," 31 May 2018 Even with two royal christenings and one royal wedding under his belt, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby still has the jitters before Prince Louis‘s big day! Maura Hohman, PEOPLE.com, "Hold Tight! Archbishop Who Will Christen Prince Louis Worries About 'Dropping the Baby'," 6 July 2018 But then, his tax bill passed — and the first-year jitters passed with it. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump’s Briefing Book Includes ‘Screen Grabs of Cable-News Chyrons’," 8 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This happens all the time but, in Riley's composition, the periodic black and white edges are jittered in a way that generates apparent motion. Daniel Glaser, A-LIST, "Out of Your Mind," 1 July 2018 Sure enough, the more the eyes jittered, the stronger the effect. Daniel Glaser, A-LIST, "Out of Your Mind," 1 July 2018 The fragility of investors’ appetite for Greek debt was shown in recent weeks when market jitters over Italy also led to a rise in Greek bond yields. Nektaria Stamouli, WSJ, "Eurozone Gives Greece Some Debt Relief as Bailout Nears End," 22 June 2018 Jones said this is not the first time in recent months that jitters over growing nuclear tensions have boosted sales of potassium iodide, which comes in tablet and liquid form and should be taken within hours of exposure to radiation. NBC News, "Anti-radiation drug sales skyrocket after ‘nuclear button’ tweet," 11 Jan. 2018 The effort has produced impressive growth but also jitters among trading partners who fret about the government’s harsh treatment of domestic dissidents and labor activists. Mike Ives, New York Times, "A Disappearance in Berlin Clouds a Trade Deal in Vietnam," 2 Nov. 2017 That helped me get my first game jitters out of the way. Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle, "Rockets unsure on Chris Paul's return," 21 Oct. 2017 Ehlinger seems to have all the freshman jitters out of the way, and is looking solid. Hunter Cooke, ajc, "Baker Mayfield doesn’t know much about Longhorn QB Sam Ehlinger, except his losses," 9 Oct. 2017 Byrne’s nervous, jittering energy boils over in a tribute to a pair of very helpful parents -- a solid-gold resource for a young, starving artist in the big city. William Goodman, Billboard, "Talking Heads' '77' Turns 40: Ranking All the Tracks," 16 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'jitter.' 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 jitter


1929, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1931, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for jitter


origin unknown

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Last Updated

23 Sep 2018

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The first known use of jitter was in 1929

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obstinately defiant of authority

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