Main definitions of jam in English

: jam1jam2

jam1

verb

  • 1[with object and adverbial] Squeeze or pack tightly into a specified space:

    ‘four of us were jammed in one compartment’
    ‘people jammed their belongings into cars’
    [no object, with adverbial] ‘mum, dad, and I jammed into the pickup truck’
    • ‘One cannot blame the citizens who try to jam one more piece of garbage into them.’
    • ‘After practically every clothing item I own is jammed into my large suitcase, I lug it down the stairs.’
    • ‘One of the guys was incredibly tall, and had to jam himself into the kart.’
    • ‘Sometimes as many as 500 students jam themselves into an auditorium for a California Scholarship Federation meeting.’
    • ‘Zack thought to himself as he jammed all of his books into his bag.’
    • ‘It turned out to be a large roost of house sparrows all trying to jam themselves into two small trees making a racket.’
    • ‘His name was Petar, and within five minutes I was jammed into his tent along with three of his companions.’
    • ‘The stairs were jammed with college students and we were pushed into the living room.’
    stuff, shove, force, ram, thrust, wedge, press, push, stick, squeeze, compress, confine, cram, pack, sandwich, insert
    crowd, pack, pile, press, squeeze, cram
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Push (something) roughly and forcibly into position or a space:
      ‘he jammed his hat on’
      • ‘I jammed my feet one at a time into my boots and strapped on my helmet.’
      • ‘I took the MP3 player out, put my phone in lengthways and tried to jam my MP3 player back in beside it - the thought of using my other pocket just didn't occur to me.’
      • ‘Akira waddled toward the door in the cumbersome space suit, he jammed the pistol into one of the pockets, put his helmet on and pulled the door open handle.’
      • ‘I rummaged in the sock drawer for a matching pair, flung on a jacket, and jammed my feet into trainers, and then walked to work in record time.’
      • ‘‘Ok, let's go baby,’ she said, jamming the two bobby pins she'd found into the lock.’
      • ‘Grace rushes across the room, jams her feet in a pair of heavy boots, and runs from the room with the blanket still held tightly around her.’
      • ‘She reined in her horse at the gates and swung down, jamming one of the keys into the padlock on the gate.’
      • ‘Horse players are now being treated like the mugs who jam their money into slot machines.’
      • ‘I pushed the arms away from me and swung around, jamming my fist into the body of the person holding me.’
      • ‘Frustrated at the metal rigging, he took a second to recall how he loaded it during basic training, and he did the same, jamming the lever back into its awkward position.’
      • ‘To turn the loom on, you grab the metal lever, pull it toward the machine, and jam it in a slot.’
      • ‘He put on his shoes, jammed his hat over his unruly blond hair, and walked next door, opening the door and ambling into the twins' room.’
      • ‘She tied up her hair in a bun and jammed a shapeless felt hat down over it.’
      • ‘Unfazed, she stood once more and jammed her hat onto her head.’
      • ‘Ending his game, Tim stepped down from the platform, snatching his hat and jamming it atop his head, while swinging his bag over his shoulder simultaneously.’
      • ‘He strode up the walk and jammed one of his hands into his pockets.’
      • ‘He jammed his fist into his baggy khaki pants, aware of the strange chemistry that floated in the air.’
      • ‘I jammed my feet into the closest pair of sneakers and grabbed my back pack.’
      • ‘Frennings took the key card and jammed it onto a slot, before press the fourth floor button.’
      • ‘My hair stood at different angles, and I jammed my Yankees hat over my head.’
      stuff, shove, force, ram, thrust, wedge, press, push, stick, squeeze, compress, confine, cram, pack, sandwich, insert
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2[with object] Crowd on to (a road or area) so as to block it:
      ‘the streets were jammed with tourist coaches’
      • ‘During past Eid celebrations hundreds of drivers have jammed Wilmslow Road to the cheers of onlookers and the event has sometimes fallen into disorder.’
      • ‘It's no better on the roads, jammed by 7.30 am, with huge seas of traffic for most of the day, sometimes until 9 o'clock at night.’
      • ‘I put on my flak jacket and helmet and walked up the road, which was jammed with tanks and armored fighting vehicles waiting to cross the bridge.’
      • ‘The East Lancashire Road was jammed with commuters trying to avoid the motorway.’
      • ‘AMERICAN POETRY is at something of a crossroads, and the roads leading there are jammed with traffic.’
    3. 1.3[with object] Cause (telephone lines) to be continuously engaged with a large number of calls:
      ‘listeners jammed a radio station's switchboard with calls’
      • ‘Phone networks have been jammed today following a series of blasts that hit London's public transport network this morning.’
      • ‘It took several hours on Wednesday morning for locals to find out what the problem was with the local water works telephone line jammed and no information available.’
      • ‘Telephone lines became jammed as distraught relatives tried to check up on loved-ones but that did not stop the rumours spreading as attention turned to who was responsible.’
      • ‘Even before the 8am deadline yesterday morning, phone lines to Ticketmaster were jammed with tens of thousands of his fans trying to get through.’
      • ‘Telephone lines were jammed and communication with the rest of the country was effectively cut off for several hours.’
      • ‘Listeners from all over the North East jammed the lines to ask Mike Parr to have the song put on the radio station's playlist.’
  • 2Become or make unable to move or work due to a part seizing up or becoming stuck:

    [no object] ‘the photocopier jammed’
    [with object] ‘the doors were jammed open’
    • ‘The four forward crewmen made it, but the exit door jammed shut.’
    • ‘She rang the police and they arrived around 7pm and succeeded in opening doors that had been jammed.’
    • ‘For a long time that door would always jam shut when ever you slammed it.’
    • ‘We reached the second elevator without confrontation of demons and we found an elevator with the doors jammed shut.’
    • ‘The outer doors are missing, the inner doors jammed, and the whole apparatus knocked out of alignment.’
    • ‘The swing bridge over the River Ouse at Selby was operating fully this morning after it jammed open at 9pm yesterday.’
    • ‘Veena Shankar was trapped in her fourth floor apartment with her two children when the doors jammed after the earthquake.’
    • ‘An explanation that I favour for the sinking is that the snort mast float valve jammed open, flooding the boat.’
    • ‘I do have a grainy memory of things like getting my finger jammed in a door, dropping a plate and cutting my foot etc.’
    • ‘When the building sprang back and forth like a car antenna, door frames twisted and jammed shut, trapping a number of them in a conference room.’
    • ‘The exit doors of Al-Amariyah jammed shut as temperatures rose to 900 degrees Fahrenheit.’
    • ‘The door seemed to be jammed and it moved very slowly as I pushed with all my might.’
    • ‘Toilet doors and interior doors jammed in the train, making it difficult for passengers to escape from the coaches.’
    • ‘The door had jammed, and I had been unable to get out of the car.’
    • ‘The wheels needed to be discs - spoked wheels just got jammed with sticks and branches.’
    • ‘The cubicle in the van was too small for him; he suffers from claustrophobia; once, the door jammed and they couldn't get him out; he had a panic attack in the van.’
    • ‘On one beach, hemmed in by cliffs on either side and palm trees at the back, some Grenadians are playing cricket, three sticks jammed into the sand for stumps.’
    • ‘But as it moved south, a battery powering the train's automatic interconnecting doors went flat and the doors jammed shut.’
    • ‘I reached the foot of the doors as the tide grew and I grasped each plate with my fingers and it inched open but suddenly jammed.’
    • ‘With a hoe-blade unrolled from her canvas, jammed onto the walking stick, she cleared a patch of low white stumps.’
    stick, become stuck, catch, become immobilized, become unable to move, become fixed, become wedged, become lodged, become trapped
    immobilize, paralyse, disable, cripple
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1[with object] Make (a broadcast or other electronic signal) unintelligible by causing interference:
      ‘they were jamming broadcasts by the pirate radio ships’
      • ‘The ship, meanwhile, will be doing what it can to jam enemy transmissions, but we can only assume some will get through, so we need to be fast.’
      • ‘The FCC argues that jamming mobile phone signals is theft of airwaves - but, more importantly, the dangers of someone missing an important call outweigh any benefit of silence.’
      • ‘The basic idea is that you carry a personalized device that jams the signals from all the RFID tags on your person until you authorize otherwise.’
      • ‘It is important that the driver does not rest his finger on this switch or he will then have effectively jammed all radio transmissions to his pit.’
      • ‘He helped trigger the October demos with radio broadcasts on a channel that has since been jammed.’
      • ‘No radio or TV and the news sites seem to be jammed.’
      • ‘People don't want their cell phone signals jammed, I am certain.’
  • 3informal [no object] Improvise with other musicians, especially in jazz or blues:

    ‘he had the opportunity to jam with Atlanta blues musicians’
    • ‘As the band got into their set, there were so many musicians jamming on a single song, it was like the finale of a Live Aid concert.’
    • ‘Will the tunes you will be jamming to on the radio be created by real life artists?’
    • ‘She had turned on the radio and was jamming to it.’
    • ‘To the delight of the crowd the pair jammed out a selection of Bob Marley classics and Fugees hits.’
    • ‘They played old and new hits, got the audience jumping over and over again, and ended it by going back into the crowd and jamming for 20 minutes or so.’

noun

  • 1An instance of a thing seizing or becoming stuck:

    ‘paper jams’
    • ‘I'd prefer to further my skills and career - not occupy myself hunched over a photocopier, when the biggest excitement of my working day is a paper jam.’
    • ‘There's a paper jam, and she's got some scissors that you can actually see there on the counter, and she's trying to fix the paper jam.’
    • ‘And let's be honest, I haven't had much to write about either - office politics, photocopier jams and the mailman's unfathomable attitude towards me being the highlight of my day.’
    • ‘Faults can include paper jams or coins getting stuck, or a machine running out of paper.’
    • ‘Election officials complain of paper jams, maintenance problems at the polling places, and high costs of printing and ballot management.’
    1. 1.1
      ‘she was held up in a jam on the M25’
      short for traffic jam
      • ‘But the traffic tailbacks and jams, which stretched right back into York, lasted well into the rush hour.’
      • ‘Drivers could find themselves stuck in rush hour jams due to new rules for moving abnormal loads, warns the AA Motoring Trust.’
      • ‘All but one of the four northbound motorway lanes had to be closed down for several hours creating jams and tailbacks.’
      • ‘Yesterday, motorists were caught in jams as he carried out his protest.’
      • ‘A squad of motorcycle policemen tried to keep the jams moving, but tailbacks of several miles built up through Malton and out as far as Rillington.’
      tailback, line, stream, hold-up, obstruction, congestion, bottleneck, stoppage
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Mountaineering A hold obtained by jamming a part of the body such as a hand or foot into a crack in the rock.
      • ‘Next were some sweet crack seams where hand jams were somewhat necessary.’
      • ‘Once you're over the initial difficulties, the route follows a nice crack that I used for left foot and hand jams.’
      • ‘For two solid pitches of great climbing, you combine laybacking, finger and hand jams, and friction moves to make your way up the corner system.’
  • 2informal An awkward situation or predicament:

    ‘I'm in a jam’
    • ‘If there is one message from what's happened, it is that when this Government is in a jam, it volunteers little except under duress.’
    • ‘In a jam like this, it's certainly OK to help your girl save face.’
    • ‘Are you as helpful as you can be when your pal is in a jam?’
    • ‘I still care about them and would have no problem helping them out if they were in a jam, but I no longer wish to spend any time with them.’
    • ‘Whenever a TV character, say, Lucy Ricardo for example, is in a jam and thinks of a clever way out, she'll try it once.’
  • 3An improvised performance by a group of musicians, especially in jazz or blues.

    • ‘Hear the best of Floyd, from record-perfect copies of your favorite songs to their psychedelic space jams.’
    • ‘So the musicians entered or departed one by one, giving way to each other in the course of performance, not that different from a jazz jam session.’
    • ‘Just as jazz musicians improvise in a jam session, two or more painters hold a visual dialogue where non-verbal expression provokes a response that in turn provokes a reaction from a partner.’
    • ‘Pig Lib has almost a 1970s rock feel to its freeform, guitar-led jams.’
    • ‘Their latest album, You Forgot It in People, amazingly encompasses all of it, the anthemic indie, the ambient dub, the free rock, the orchestral jams and the pristine pop.’
    1. 3.1 (especially in dance or urban music) a song or track:
      ‘an ultra catchy jam, driven by the drums but given substance by the interjection of horns’
      ‘the band dedicated about a quarter of the set to new jams’
      • ‘The car's new sound system can easily kick out the high-volume jams with the added noise of driving without a roof.’
      • ‘The popular radio jam quickly caught flak from groups who deemed the song's lyrics offensive.’
      • ‘From the irresistible party jams of South Bronx to the urban sounds of today, hip-hop has maintained close links with its roots.’
      • ‘Coloured Clocks tour as a four piece band, wowing audiences with their catchy hooks combined with improvisational psychedelic jams.’
      • ‘A would-be country performer, she whipped out her favorite jam, "Superbass", and impressed!’
      • ‘It was nice of Lenny Kravitz to dust off some new jams for us at halftime there.’
      • ‘The catchy jam is off their upcoming album Third Strike, out later this year.’
      • ‘They danced to his jam and to Hammer's Too Legit to Quit.’
      • ‘Assemblies would go on far longer than they needed to, so he could get in a few more Sgt Pepper jams.’
      • ‘After performing for nearly 3 hours, he improvised this jam on the old standard "Motherless Child."’

Phrases

  • jam on the brakes

    • Operate the brakes of a vehicle suddenly and forcibly, typically in response to an emergency.

      • ‘Azrael had jammed on the brakes, sending the automobile into a short skid forward, the sudden movement tensing his new muscles and flesh quickly.’
      • ‘Ian jammed on the brakes and the truck screeched to a halt, almost tipping Dog onto the floor.’
      • ‘Suddenly it swerved across the road, and I jammed on the brakes.’
      • ‘Instead of racing up to stop signs and red lights, jamming on the brakes, and then accelerating quickly when it is your turn to go, back off of the gas as you approach the stopping point and accelerate gradually when you pull out.’
      • ‘I'm driving slowly, but I have to jam on the brakes twice to avoid hitting pedestrians who walk in front of my car.’
      • ‘All I could do was jam on the brakes, put my hands over my face and hope the lorry wouldn't topple over on me.’
      • ‘The car ahead of them stopped for a traffic light and she jammed on the brakes.’
      • ‘Quickly the rider jammed on the brakes again, harder this time, and abruptly stopped in place, his back wheel rearing a few feet off of the ground from the lost momentum.’
      • ‘Just as he reached the Avenue, he suddenly jammed on the brakes, sending us flying towards the rear window.’
      • ‘The instinct is to jam on the brakes, but the driver who best feathers the brakes and corners smoothly will be the one winning.’

Origin

Early 18th century: probably symbolic; compare with jag and cram.

Pronunciation:

jam

/dʒam/

Main definitions of jam in English

: jam1jam2

jam2

noun

  • 1[mass noun] A sweet spread or conserve made from fruit and sugar boiled to a thick consistency:

    ‘strawberry jam’
    [as modifier] ‘jam doughnuts’
    • ‘Steam puddings with dried fruit or jam for flavouring were boiled in basins with cloths tied over the top.’
    • ‘If you have enough berries, you can also make little pots of sweet jam.’
    • ‘Currently available are apricot jam, sweet Seville, grapefruit, and three fruits marmelades and tomato and cranberry chutneys.’
    • ‘A selection of delicate pastries, banana slices, glazed fudge, lemon tarts, scones with clotted cream and jam, and boiled Welsh fruit cake were also on offer.’
    • ‘Cane and beet sugar are the usual sources of sugar for jelly or jam.’
    • ‘She was munching through a croissant, heartily spread with black raspberry jam, when she realized that she had other things to think about.’
    • ‘If you overcook your jam, the sugar will caramelize and it won't taste good and there's nothing you can do.’
    • ‘When cake is quite cold, brush top with slightly warmed apricot jam.’
    • ‘Alighting from the boats we went into one of the huge ‘refs’ and had some lovely tea and buttered scones, topped with jam!’
    • ‘The sandwich was well up to expectations and this was followed by a warm and very fresh fruit scone which crumbled as we spread it with strawberry jam and cream.’
    • ‘Fresh thick slices of loaf bread, generously spread with strawberry jam, washed down with strong sweet tea just have to be eaten outdoors to be really enjoyed.’
    • ‘There is butter for the waffles, and powdered sugar, and strawberry jam.’
    • ‘Spread raspberry jam over slices and drizzle with orange juice or liqueur.’
    • ‘You can then sprinkle the petit suisse with sugar or strawberry jam.’
    • ‘Loryn picked up a slice of toast and slowly spread jam over it.’
    • ‘In the Cafe you can try a selection of their bread by ordering a basket of it with butter and a sharp but sweet strawberry jam.’
    • ‘She took a small bowlful of cherries in defiance of the usual selection the women made of crackers spread thinly with jam.’
    • ‘For the sandwiches, spread some plum jam on six bread slices and cover with the remaining slices.’
    • ‘Every morning her husband brings her breakfast of croissants with strawberry jam and a bowl of fresh fruit to bed.’
    • ‘There is nothing wrong with a good old Victoria sponge, thickly spread with butter icing and home-made jam, and dusted with icing sugar.’
    preserve, conserve, jelly, marmalade
    dulce
    confiture, confection
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1British Used in reference to something easy or pleasant:
      ‘they want it all, both ways and with jam on the top’
      • ‘However, rather than adopt a ‘gruel for all’ approach, he has opted to ‘add jam on top’ for the poorest.’
      • ‘It seems you're just not interested in the bread and butter; only the jam.’

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • Make (fruit) into jam.

Phrases

  • jam tomorrow

    • A pleasant thing which is often promised but rarely materializes:

      ‘a promise of jam tomorrow wasn't enough to satisfy them’
      • ‘They want real things instead such as gold, copper, metals, non-listed companies, cash or anything that is not a promise of jam tomorrow.’
      • ‘He should realise that promises of jam tomorrow are not helping shopkeepers in his area to swallow difficulties forced on them by the loss of parking spaces.’
      • ‘We have been promised jam tomorrow but we have never got it.’
      • ‘Policy holders want cash today, not the promise of jam tomorrow, and if people don't appreciate that then they are out of touch.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, in the case of human and civil rights, promises of jam tomorrow are simply not good enough.’
  • put (or lay) on jam

    • informal Adopt an affected way of speaking or an affected manner:

      ‘when nervous, she tends to put on jam’
      • ‘I loved people who did not put on 'Jam'.’
      • ‘She has been putting on jam to some extent.’
      • ‘One girl said I put on jam but I don't talk funny.’
      • ‘A few of the educated people we came across were, by their accent, "putting on jam".’
      • ‘They wanted to know everything about him; if he was "a proud or bashful sort of man?" and if he "put on jam?"’

Origin

Mid 18th century: perhaps from jam.

Pronunciation:

jam

/dʒam/