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"in a Jiffy"

Posted by James Briggs on September 16, 2003

In Reply to: "In a Jiffy" posted by ESC on September 16, 2003

: : To do something or get somewhere "in a jiffy", meaning to get there quickly or to do a task expediently. What is a "Jiffy?"
: : Thanks

: Merriam-Webster doesn't have an origin. Some other reference might.

: Main Entry: jif·fy
: Pronunciation: 'ji-fE
: Function: noun
: Inflected Form(s): plural jiffies
: Etymology: origin unknown
: Date: 1779

The Oxford English Dictionary says "Origin unascertained". The earliest use it gives is from Munchhausen's Travels : "In six jiffies I found myself and all my retinue . . . at the rock of Gibralter [sic]". I'm told that the term was taken into the scientific community late in the 20th century and was actually applied as a unit of time; however the unit seems to vary from discipline to discipline!

See also: the meaning and origin of 'in a jiffy'.