cut of his jib

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A saying that has taken its place in the English language as meaning, originally, that a person was recognized by the shape of his (her) nose. It has now come to indicate what someone thinks of a person's appearance or demeanour: ‘I like the cut of his jib’, ‘I like his attitude.’ The term originated in the sailing navies of the mid-18th century, when the nationality of warships sighted at sea could be accurately determined by the shape of their jib long before the national flag could be seen. For instance, French jibs were cut much shorter on the luff than English ones, giving a distinctly more acute angle in the clew.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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