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

herb foster herbf at GIS.NET
Sat Apr 22 03:04:15 UTC 2000

For gig, check page 123 of Robert S. Gold's A Jazz Lexicon from 1964

Herb Foster

At 12:49 PM 04/21/2000 -0400, Gregory {Greg} Downing 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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