"Gig" (early cites) (was Re: "Axe" for 'guitar'?)

James Smith jsmithjamessmith at YAHOO.COM
Fri Apr 21 19:16:50 UTC 2000

One possibile origin of 'gig': I recently heard a
(supposedly) well trained musician introduce a 'gigue'
(French for jig) to the audience as a 'gig': of
course, this could have been exactly the opposite
process, simply mistaking the more obscure word
'gigue' for the better known 'gig'.

--- Gregory {Greg} Downing <gd2 at IS2.NYU.EDU> wrote:
> At 12:34 PM 4/21/2000, Beverly Olson Flanigan wrote:
> >Funny that you should mention 'gig': a colleague of
> mine asked me just
> >yesterday where that word came from.  We checked
> the OED but found nothing
> >seemingly related (unless 'gig'=fun or silliness,
> hence, presumably,
> >'giggle'? Interesting that it originally referred
> to girls'
> >silliness...).  Musicians?
> >
> Here are the 1920's amnd 30's cites from OED*2*, gig
> n6:
> gig, n.6  colloq.
> [Origin unknown.]
> An engagement for a musician or musicians playing
> jazz, dance-music, etc.;
> spec. a `one-night stand'; also, the place of such a
> performance. Also
> transf. and attrib. Hence
> `gigster, one who does `gigs'.
> 1926 Melody Maker Sept. 7 One popular `gig' band
> makes use of a nicely
> printed booklet.
> 1927 Ibid. May 457/3 This seven-piece combination
> does many `gigs' in S.E.
> London, but is hoping to secure a resident
> engagement at Leamington in the
> near future.
> 1934 S. R. Nelson All about Jazz vi. 113 Jack runs
> numerous bands which play
> `gig' work---i.e. private engagements or public
> work. In his office, he has
> a file in which some hundreds of `gig' musicians are
> listed.
> 1939 Melody Maker 9 Sept., When King George died
> there was terrible
> confusion, especially among gigsters, as to whether
> they should fulfil their
> gigs or not.
> ************************
> Greg Downing/NYU, at greg.downing at nyu.edu or
> gd2 at is2.nyu.edu

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