Last modified on 6 February 2015, at 12:30

cut of one's jib



Different shapes of jib sails.

From maritime traditions, alluding to the identification of far-off ships by the shape of their sails, as in the Naval Chronicles (1805) “From the cut of her sails an enemy.” Used idiomatically of a person from early 19th century, attested 1824, possibly influenced by similarity of triangular jib sails to a person’s nose.[1]


cut of one's jib (uncountable)

  1. (idiomatic) A person's general appearance, manner, or style.
    • 1824, Walter Scott, St. Ronan's Well:[1]
      If she disliked what the sailor calls the cut of their jib.
    • 1896, Robert Barr, A Woman Intervenes, ch. 8:
      I have seen that girl on the deck, and I like the cut of her jib. I like the way she walks. Her independence suits me.
    • 1922, James Joyce, Ulysses, Episode 16:
      Though a well preserved man of no little stamina, if a trifle prone to baldness, there was something spurious in the cut of his jib that suggested a jail delivery.
    • 2003, Ted Bell, Hawke: A Novel, ISBN 9780743466691, p. 278:
      "You don't like me much, do you?"
      "Let's just say I don't like the cut of your jib, Mr. Tate."
    • 2013, Matthew Berry, Fantasy Focus Football:
      "It's so frustrating, I mean, Cordarrelle Patterson, I really like the cut of his jib!"

Usage notesEdit

Often used in form “to like the cut of someone’s jib”, as in “I like the cut of your jib.”


  1. 1.0 1.1 Cut of your jib”, The Phrase Finder, Gary Martin.