Did You Know?
When "jimjams" entered English in the mid-19th century, it probably referred to a specific kind of jitters -- the "delirium tremens," a violent delirium caused by excessive drinking. "Jimjams" is not particularly common today, but when it is used in current American English it means simply "jitters." Etymologists aren't sure about the origin of the term. Some speculate that it came about as an alteration of "delirium tremens." Others, though uncertain of the origin of "jim" and "jam," notice that the word follows a pattern of similar words in which one sound is repeated or altered slightly. Interestingly, other words for "jitters" were formed in the same repetitive way -- "whim-whams" and "heebie-jeebies" are examples.
"Just thinking about my presentation today gives me the jimjams," confided Joseph to his coworker.
"'Now, don't make me repeat myself,' the man said, still musical but jittery, as though talking to kids gave him the jimjams." -- From Ingrid Law's 2008 novel Savvy
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