Definition of jazz in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /dʒaz/


[mass noun]
1A type of music of black American origin which emerged at the beginning of the 20th century, characterized by improvisation, syncopation, and usually a regular or forceful rhythm. Brass and woodwind instruments and piano are particularly associated with jazz, although guitar and occasionally violin are also used; styles include Dixieland, swing, bebop, and free jazz.
Example sentences
  • Even Dixieland and swing jazz from that era really had fast tempos.
  • Charlie Parker may have pioneered bebop jazz, but Miles Davis helped him to establish it.
  • He and the Muddy Basin Ramblers have played a mix of country, blues, jug-band music and early swing jazz for over a year.
1.1 (also jazz ballet or jazz dance) A style of theatrical dance performed to jazz or popular music.
Example sentences
  • The main genres of choreographed dance are ballet, modern dance, and jazz dance.
  • But the more you look at it, particularly on Broadway, you begin to see that, while jazz dance is distinct from ballet and modern and all the rest, it has borrowed from each of them.
  • Like jazz dance, Cuban dance forms owe an immeasurable debt to African culture.


[no object] dated Play or dance to jazz music.


and all that jazz

informal And such similar things: oh, love, life, and all that jazz
More example sentences
  • Many people believe in fortune tellers and clairvoyants and all that jazz, but me, I'm just not sure.
  • He would rant and rave about capitalism and all that jazz, and basically he can be stereotyped as a Green party member.
  • She told me her name, where she was from, where she went to school and all that jazz.

Phrasal verbs

jazz something up

Make something more interesting, lively, or exciting: jazz up an all-white kitchen with red tiles
More example sentences
  • Caroline's Beauty Salon will also be on hand offering make-up tips for all you glamour gals looking to jazz it up for the festive season, while Richard Hannigan will be giving advise on all the latest trends in hair design.
  • He believes bank branches can be jazzed up and transformed into places customers feel they genuinely want to visit.
  • Director Lee Tamahori tries to jazz things up with some flashy editing but can't disguise the fact that the 40-year-old formula is beginning to wear a little thin.
enliven, liven up, brighten up, make more interesting, make more exciting, put some spirit into, make more attractive, add (some) colour to, wake up, give a lift/boost to, lift, ginger up;
improve, enhance, embellish, dress up, beautify, gild, season, leaven, add spice to, spice up, revitalize, vitalize
informal perk up, pep up, zhoosh (up)



Example sentences
  • With last year's Happy People, former Miles Davis saxophonist Kenny Garrett mixed tough improvising and striking pop-jazz themes so well that even the most sneering fundamentalist jazzers thought twice about complaining.
  • He confronts black jazzers ' resentment of Baker's playing: Most heard him, with excellent reason, as a paler, milder Miles Davis, yet he won polls and looked like he was making big money.
  • But in as much as the music catches her still working close to the manner of her then significant model, Betty Carter, the disc nevertheless remains an interesting example of what attracted jazzers to Wilson in the first place.


Early 20th century: perhaps related to jism.

  • We have been enjoying jazz since the early years of the 20th century, but no one is completely sure about the word's origin, although an enormous number of suggestions have been made, including an African origin. It seems that the original meaning may have been something like ‘liveliness, energy, spirit’—in 1912 a baseball player said of his new way of pitching: ‘I call it the Jazz ball because it wobbles and you simply can't do anything with it.’ The first known musical use came in 1915 in Chicago. Jazz was also used with sexual connotations, and its source could be the slang word jism (M19th of unknown origin) ‘semen’. And all that jazz, meaning ‘and all that stuff, etcetera’, has been around since the 1950s, but is currently particularly known as a song from the 1975 musical Chicago.

Words that rhyme with jazz

Abkhaz, as, Baz, has, pizzazz, razz, whereas

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: jazz

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.