Definition of jitterbug in English:



  • 1A fast dance popular in the 1940s, performed chiefly to swing music.

    • ‘Being aboard a ship was drastically more boring than dancing the jitterbug in England.’
    • ‘The old girl stopped doing the jitterbug and picked up a lively waltz instead.’
    • ‘Wear your favorite 50's fashion, practice your jitterbug moves, and swing into 2005 in 50's style!’
    • ‘There was also a blitz ball, a jitterbug jive dance night, a mock 1940s wedding, a remembrance service and a parade.’
    • ‘Rocket Man makes an appearance, and even attempts the jitterbug.’
    • ‘I might even do a little jitterbug around the kitchen.’
    • ‘Show dances and jitterbugs are stylized and often meshed with whatever Mr. Varone favors.’
    • ‘Old men in paper hats dance the jitterbug with old women in poodle skirts.’
    • ‘And I remember I did the jitterbug on stage, the opening of the third act.’
    • ‘They said it so often that the panic spread and everyone danced the jitterbug.’
    • ‘We headed onwards to Harajuku park, where we came across some Japanese Teddy Boys, with monster quiffs, and jitterbug dance moves.’
    • ‘Lucy hires a local teen to teach her the jitterbug for a big audition, but when the day arrives, eye drops make it hard for her to see.’
    • ‘I try to sniffle, but all I manage is a jitterbug around my offices.’
    • ‘The answer was to make the jitterbug a slotted dance.’
    • ‘I took country dancing lessons, waltz, jitterbug and polka at the Quick-Quick Slow-Slow dance school in Houston.’
    • ‘It was a time of Bill Haley and the Comets, Elvis and the jitterbug.’
    • ‘‘In my little pink-white body back in Aberdeen, Washington, doing the jitterbug - I thought such dancing came out of the air,’ says Brown.’
    • ‘I was just a little girl but I used to love peeking around the corner and watching them doing the jitterbug and throwing the girls over their shoulders.’
    • ‘When he does surgery he dances, does the jitterbug.’
    • ‘The war was, in a sense, the latest fad, a topic to be exploited in the same way as other fads like bicycles, automobiles, or the jitterbug.’
    1. 1.1dated A person fond of dancing the jitterbug.
      • ‘A motormouth jitterbug with a shiny dome, he was the X factor, goosing the rhythm and galvanizing the offense.’
  • 2informal, dated A nervous person.

    • ‘So now to the big day, needless to say there were hardly any jitterbugs.’
    • ‘Obviously, using a jitterbug is not a good practice.’


  • Dance the jitterbug.

    • ‘But she did get to jitterbug with Rob Marshall - and ended up with a broken finger.’
    • ‘Following straight on from the Pilates class above will be an introduction to jiving and jitterbugging.’
    • ‘At our last festival, we played a swing set and great crowds were jitterbugging all over the place!’
    • ‘They were waltzing when they should have been jitterbugging.’
    • ‘If words are comedic crutches, then mimes are the gimps jitterbugging at Lourdes.’
    • ‘I guess I liked the more modern stuff more; though the jitterbugging was equally interesting.’
    • ‘The ensembles of bopping and jitterbugging are done with real swing.’
    • ‘It is true that as we age we may no longer be able to jitterbug or engage in a fast mambo.’
    • ‘I find it hard to believe I not only wore some of those shoes but also two-stepped, waltzed, and even jitterbugged in them.’
    • ‘They were jitterbugging, swinging to the tunes of big bands, or singing hymns.’
    • ‘Somebody might break out a ‘jug,’ and there would be jitterbugging in the aisles.’
    • ‘He jitterbugged closer, waving the knife back and forth.’
    • ‘I found it hard to imagine dad in flares and a flowery kaftan jitterbugging the night away.’


1930s (originally US): from the verb jitter + bug.