\ˈjəmp \
jumped; jumping; jumps

Definition of jump 

(Entry 1 of 3)

intransitive verb

1a : to spring into the air : leap especially : to spring free from the ground or other base by the muscular action of feet and legs

b : to move suddenly or involuntarily : start

c : to move energetically : hustle

d : to start out or forward : begin usually used with off jump off to a big lead

e : to move over a position occupied by an opponent's piece in a board game often thereby capturing the piece

f : to undergo a vertical or lateral displacement owing to improper alignment of the film on a projector mechanism

g : to go from one sequence of instructions in a computer program to another

2a : to move haphazardly or irregularly : shift abruptly jumped from job to job

b : to undergo a sudden sharp change in value prices jumped

c : to make a hurried judgment jump to conclusions

d : to show eagerness jumped at the chance

e : to enter eagerly jump on the bandwagon

f : to change or abandon employment especially in violation of contract

g : to rise suddenly in rank or status

h : to make a jump in bridge

3 : to make a sudden physical or verbal attack jumped on him for his criticism

4 : to bustle with activity the restaurant was jumping

transitive verb

1a : to leap over jump a hurdle

b : to leap aboard jump a freight

c : to act, move, or begin before (something, such as a signal) jump the green light

d : to move over (a piece) in a board game

2a : to escape from : avoid

b : to leave hastily or in violation of contract jump town without paying their bills— Hamilton Basso

c : to depart from (a normal course) jump the track

3a : to make a sudden physical or verbal attack on

b : to occupy illegally jump a mining claim

4a(1) : to cause to leap

(2) : to cause (game) to break cover : start, flush

b : to increase suddenly and sharply

c : to elevate in rank or status

d : to raise (a bridge partner's bid) by more than one rank

5 obsolete : risk, hazard

jump bail

: to abscond after being released from prison on bail

jump ship

1 : to leave the company of a ship without authority

2 : to desert a cause or party especially abruptly

jump the gun

1 : to start in a race before the starting signal

2 : to act, move, or begin something before the proper time

jump the queue

British : to advance directly to or as if to the head of a line

jump the shark

: to undergo a significant change for the worse that marks the point at which a period of success ends (as for a TV series)



Definition of jump (Entry 2 of 3)

1a(1) : an act of jumping : leap

(2) : any of several sports competitions featuring a leap, spring, or bound

(3) : a leap in figure skating in which the skater leaves the ice with both feet and turns in the air

(4) : a space cleared or covered by a leap

(5) : an obstacle to be jumped over or from

b : a sudden involuntary movement : start

c : a move made in a board game by jumping

d : a transfer from one sequence of instructions in a computer program to a different sequence

2 : an advantage at the start getting the jump on the competition

3a(1) : a sharp sudden increase

(2) : a bid in bridge of more tricks than are necessary to overcall the preceding bid — compare shift

b : an abrupt change or transition

c(1) : a quick short journey

(2) : one in a series of moves from one place to another

d : the portion of a published item (such as a newspaper article or story) that comprises the continuation of an item that begins on a preceding page

4 : jazz music with a fast tempo

5 obsolete : venture



Definition of jump (Entry 3 of 3)


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Synonyms for jump

Synonyms: Verb

bound, hop, leap, spring, vault

Synonyms: Noun

bound, hop, leap, spring, vault

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Where did jump the shark come from?

When something jumps the shark it undergoes a significant change for the worse and is on a new trajectory of unrecoverable decline. The happy days of its golden age are over.

The origin of the phrase jump the shark is tucked neatly in that previous sentence: it comes from a 1977 episode of the American TV series “Happy Days” (1974–1984) in which the program's most popular character, Fonzie, jumps over a shark while waterskiing in his trademark leather jacket. Some years later that episode came to be widely identified as marking the beginning of the iconic show's decline, and its plot device became a metaphor for similar transformations:

Nearly all TV shows ever produced have jumped the shark eventually. Such is the nature of television's creative conundrum.
— Monica Collins, Boston Herald, 9 Jan. 2000

Most TV series take three seasons to jump the shark, but in the theater it can happen in 20 minutes …
— Bob Verini, Daily Variety, 18 Sept. 2009

But in its headlong embrace of capitalism and corporate tie-ins, “Sex and the City” may have finally jumped the shark.
— Laura Compton, San Francisco Chronicle, 30 May 2010

The phrase is no longer limited to contexts involving entertainment; anything that undergoes a significant change for the worse that marks the start of a period of decline can be said to have "jumped the shark":

Not everyone agrees when Picasso's art jumped the shark.
— Jeffry Cudlin, Washington Post, 27 Feb. 2011

Silicon Valley has “jumped the shark” and lacks innovation, venture capitalist Peter Thiel says.
— Mike Murphy, MarketWatch, 1 Nov. 2018

Examples of jump in a Sentence


The circus lion jumped through the hoop. The fans were jumping up and down with excitement. Everyone was jumping for joy when we found out that we had won an award. The cat jumped down off the table. The runner jumped a hurdle. The car jumped the curb. Everyone jumped into the pool. He jumped into his truck and drove away. She jumped when she heard a loud knock late at night. She jumped to an early lead in the race.


The horse took the first jump easily but balked at the second. took a small jump forward to avoid stepping in the puddle
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Back home in England, Riding protested the situation by jumping from a fourth-story window. David Yezzi, WSJ, "‘Robert Graves’ Review: A Poet of Love and War," 23 Nov. 2018 Between 2000 and 2016, the number and share of census tracts in the country with a majority of older adults jumped from 1,499 to 4,764. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Senior housing: Older Americans face affordability, accessibility challenges," 14 Nov. 2018 As the story goes, my grandmother hid and watched while her brothers jumped down from trees to snap the necks of Nazi soldiers. Rachel Christensen, SELF, "Losing My Pregnancy and the 2016 Election Taught Me That We Have No Choice But to Keep Going," 8 Nov. 2018 And in 2015, wingsuit flier Dean Potter and his partner, Graham Hunt, died after jumping from Taft Point and crashing. Megan Friedman, Country Living, "A Married Couple Died After Falling 800 Feet at Yosemite National Park," 30 Oct. 2018 That led to a weeks-long period where the Daily Stormer jumped from domain to domain, looking for a provider who was willing to provide it service. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Gab forced offline over apparent tie to Pittsburgh synagogue shooter," 29 Oct. 2018 The unemployment rate jumped from 6.1 percent in August 2008 to 9.5 percent two years later in August 2010. Emily Stewart, Vox, "How close are we to another financial crisis? 8 experts weigh in.," 18 Sep. 2018 Because any movement with two people in the bed results in the blanket completely jumping ship and sliding off the entire bed. Julia Smith, House Beautiful, "This Cheap, Knock-Off Weighted Blanket Has Almost Ruined My Relationship," 17 Sep. 2018 The territory’s local craft beer market boomed, jumping from two breweries in 2013 to more than 35 in 2018. Kate Springer, Condé Nast Traveler, "Inside Hong Kong's Craft Beer Revolution," 17 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Port of Seattle, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), airline representatives and local city officials are exploring potential noise-reduction measures — but none matches the scale of the massive projected jump in air traffic. Dominic Gates, The Seattle Times, "As Sea-Tac Airport traffic booms, distant neighborhoods are noisy despite FAA plan," 25 Oct. 2018 Some of the biggest jumps are in markets that have been red hot over the last 5 years, namely the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Denver. Jeff Andrews, Curbed, "Home prices have finally hit a wall on the West Coast," 16 Oct. 2018 Knievel did a similar series of jumps about 50 years ago but crashed. Dana Hedgpeth, Washington Post, "Maryland man replicates three of Evel Knievel’s iconic motorcycle jumps," 9 July 2018 The breeze up there feels so unbelievably good — like being high and weightless at the crest of a trampoline jump. Stella Bugbee, The Cut, "July, Ride On," 2 July 2018 Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of Stephen King’s 1986 novel about a group of kids fending off a killer clown layers generous scoops of action atop a base of jump scares — with a sprinkling of late-’80s nostalgia. Gabe Cohn, New York Times, "What’s on TV Saturday: ‘It’ and ‘Liquid Science’," 30 June 2018 In 2017, Diallo posted one of the best vertical jumps in NBA combine history. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "Hamidou Diallo picked in second round of NBA draft, reportedly traded to Charlotte," 21 June 2018 Of Daisher’s thousands of jumps, his worst injury occurred in 2003. Kelsey Grey, idahostatesman, "He's risked his life more than 4,600 times. He's not done risking it yet.," 30 May 2018 Biggest increases, decreases Lebda's big payday came in a year in which his company's stock rose 236 percent, one of the biggest jumps of any company last year. Rick Rothacker And Ely Portillo, charlotteobserver, "Here's how much Charlotte CEOs made in 2017 — and their best perks | Charlotte Observer," 22 May 2018

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


1530, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


circa 1552, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


1539, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for jump


probably akin to Low German gumpen to jump

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Learn More about jump

Dictionary Entries near jump






jump all over

jump at

Statistics for jump

Last Updated

29 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for jump

The first known use of jump was in 1530

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More Definitions for jump



English Language Learners Definition of jump

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to move your body upward from the ground and often forward, backward, or sideways through the air by pushing with your legs

: to cause your body to drop or fall down from something by pushing with your legs

: to move forward through the air and over (something)



English Language Learners Definition of jump (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of jumping

: a sudden movement because of surprise or shock

: something to be jumped over


\ˈjəmp \
jumped; jumping

Kids Definition of jump

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to spring into the air : leap

2 : to pass over or cause to pass over with or as if with a leap Our dog tried to jump the fence.

3 : to make a sudden movement The sudden noise made me jump.

4 : to make a sudden attack “Are you trying to make hash out of little Willie with all five of you jumping on him at once?”— Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking

5 : to have or cause a sudden sharp increase Food prices have jumped.

6 : to make a hasty judgment Don't jump to conclusions.

jump the gun

1 : to start in a race before the starting signal

2 : to do something before the proper time



Kids Definition of jump (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act or instance of leaping He made a running jump.

2 : a sudden involuntary movement : start He gave a jump when she came in.

3 : a sharp sudden increase a jump in temperature

4 : an initial advantage We got the jump on the other team.

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More from Merriam-Webster on jump

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for jump

Spanish Central: Translation of jump

Nglish: Translation of jump for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of jump for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about jump

Comments on jump

What made you want to look up jump? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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