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September 12, 2023

What is a Jive Turkey?

A jive turkey is someone who exaggerates everything and talks nonsense. They might be pathological liars and they inflate their self-worth. The phrase is based on African American Vernacular English and was first used in the 1970s. It was popularized by the black sitcom 'The Jeffersons' and by funk bands like Ohio Players who used it in their song 'Jive Turkey' in 1974.

In its early usage, the phrase was employed within black communities as a means of criticizing those who engaged in boastful and manipulative talk or behavior. As time passed, it gained broader exposure in movies, music, and TV shows, establishing itself as a cultural and ethnic slang expression that conveyed a sense of street smart authenticity and sharp wit.

Today, the phrase jive turkey is commonly used as a slang insult and can be heard in rap and hip hop music. It is also occasionally used in other genres of music to suggest a humorously off-beat and unconventional personality or mannerism. Some people use the term jokingly to mock friends or family members who act in a flamboyant and exaggerated manner, without intending any level of serious criticism.

The term jive is also used to describe certain types of dances, such as disco dancing. It is also used as slang to refer to a type of car, such as the Ford Mustang. In a movie or TV show, it is common to have a character that speaks slang to call out another character for speaking in an inappropriate or outdated way. This is often done by having the slang-speaking hero call out the square by calling them a 'jive turkey.' The square is then compelled to speak slang in order to prove that they are not a 'jive turkey.'