Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Ever had the Jim Jams or the Jimmies?

I get the jimmies means I get shaky and nervous

Jim jams noun Anxiety, restlessness.
1885 Murfree Prophet 153 Mirandy Jane hev fairly got the jim-jams. 1996-97 Montgomery Coll.  (Bush, Ellis, Oliver)

jimmies, have the verb phrase To be shaky from fear or anxiety, sometimes due to the consumption of alcohol.
1997 Montgomery Coll. (Adams, Brown, Bush, Cardwell, Oliver, Weaver).

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

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I’ve heard folks say they had the jimmies my whole life, but I had never heard of the jim jams until I saw the entry in the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English.

A few weeks ago I went down to visit with Granny for a while. I took one of the girls’ laptops along and thought I would write while Granny crocheted.

As soon as I sat down on the couch I got the jimmies…and no it wasn’t from consuming alcohol like the definition suggested.

I went outside and weeded Granny’s garden and tried to sit again, but still couldn’t.

I wandered into the kitchen, washed the dishes, and then asked Granny if she’d like for me to clean out her refrigerator. She said “No, you don’t need to do that come sit down with me for a while.” I said “I got to do something I can’t be still. I’m antsy.” She said “Well then help yourself.”

Cleaning out the frig finally settled me down and then I was able to sit and write for a good long while.

I don’t feel antsy or get the jimmies often, and I’m sure glad I don’t, that’s a feeling that I do not like.

I have 2 questions for you.

  1. Do you ever get the jimmies?
  2. Have you ever heard of the jim-jams?

Tipper

 

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19 Comments

  • Reply
    Quinn
    August 6, 2016 at 10:13 am

    Well, I am WAY off on this one! To me, “jimmies” are the little sugar sprinkles kids used to ask for on ice cream cones. And “jimjams” are pajamas, though I may have made that one up myself!

  • Reply
    Brenda Schlosser
    August 6, 2016 at 1:03 am

    I’ve had the heeby jeebies, the willy’s and antsy. In fact, I’m very antsy right now for my Labor Day weekend to my cousin’s cabin.

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    August 5, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    Interesting!!! Never heard them called either before.
    I have heard them called the jitters though, and restlessness, and antsy.
    And I think I was born with all three, because when I was a teenager, I use to be able to sit in a chair sideways, knitting a pair of slippers or scarf, while reading a book AND watching tv, and still one foot would be jerking too and fro. Use to make our Mom angry. She’d say, “Can’t you ever sit still?” Well no, I guess I can’t. LOL
    I heard I even rock back and forth and rub my feet together when I’m sleeping.
    Prayers everyone has a great, safe week.
    God bless.
    RB
    <><

  • Reply
    Joan Jones
    August 5, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    Howdy Tipper,
    Yep, had em (jimmies) before, and like you at Grannies, I find housework helps ! And, if it doesn’t, at least the house is clean ! Lol
    Looking forward to hearing and seeing those Pressley gals at the Court house tonight.
    Joan

  • Reply
    Tamela
    August 5, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    hoo-boy! so many different types of anxiety or restlessness and ways to express those feelings.
    Here’ s my take on the topic:
    “Jimmy’s”, “willies”, “antsy”, “anxious anticipation”, “wound up tight” – the feeling you get that something is about to happen that will change things or the feeling that you need to take action to change things. I get those whenever the weather could lead to flash floods or tornados or when a hurricane is approaching. I also have that feeling at a hoarding relative’s house – I need to straighten and clean so bad know it’s not my choice.
    “Heeby Jeebies”, sometimes “willies”, “creeps” – those apply to the situations where the hyper alert “fight or flight” (emphasis on “flight”) instinct is triggered due to someone who or something which makes you feel “wierded out” , “creeped out”, or otherwise in a potentially dangerous situation due to another’s suspected bad intentions, thoughts, or attitudes.
    “ants in my pants”, a “bug in my britches”, “undies in a bundle”, “panties in a wad”- nothing in particular is bothering you – you just need to “get the wiggles out” – and the only way to do it is to physically busy yourself with this, that, and the other, and hope you are doing some good in the process.
    a “jim- jam” is kind of like writer’s block – you’ve got the need (perceived or real) to be doing something (more than likely, a particular thing) but you just can’t seem to get goin’ on it and you have the feeling that there is a specific something keeping you from progressing but you’re not quite sure what it is but you are sure that if you figure it out, everything will be better. In the meantime, you wiggle, and twitch, and put up with some folks possibly telling you you are procrastinating!
    As for people who people who “talk without saying any thing” – that’s just “jibber-jabber”.
    (and I used to be impressed by all the words the eskimos have for “snow”; we’ve just barely scratched the surface of all the words that can be used to relate types of anxiety – no wonder psychiatrists and psychologists keep busy!)

  • Reply
    Ken
    August 5, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Tipper,
    I’ve never heard of the “jim jams” , but my 2nd oldest brother use to say he had the “immy-jimmies”. I recon it was his nerves. An old timer from Michigan and neighbor once told me that I should live to 120, cause I was the laid-backest fellow he ever knew.
    When either of my two girls get antsy, they like to call daddy. I’m just glad it helps, cause I have no idea what they’re going thru…Happy Birthday Tipper…Ken

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    August 5, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    I’ve never heard jim jams,although I’ve had them.My wife uses the common expression,that I’m like a hen on a hot rock when I become hyper active.
    LG

  • Reply
    TimMc
    August 5, 2016 at 10:55 am

    Yep,, I get it and haven’t heard it called that in a while.. There have been times I didn’t think I was going to ever shake it.. Don’t happen as often as it use to.. I found out that no sleep will bring it on like a storm.. I have a one word fix ” Melatonin”

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    August 5, 2016 at 10:14 am

    I’ve heard it! I’ve said it! I’ve had ’em!

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    August 5, 2016 at 9:12 am

    I’ve had the willys. But, I’m not exactly sure it’s the same as the jimmies. My neighbor stands in his drive way and watches the kids play. He gives me the willys. To me, the willys are a reaction to something creepy or gross.
    Now, with school starting in two weeks, I can say that gives me the jimmies. As a matter of fact, I though about teaching on my run this morning and definitely got Jim jammed.
    I need to pondering on the distinction more. But, I have a new way to express my anxiety about some situations.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    August 5, 2016 at 8:28 am

    Tipper–That’s a new one to me, which suggests maybe it has gone out of usage in Swain County (I’ll be interested to see if it is familiar to Bill B.). Synonyms or near synonyms such as antsy, a nervous wreck, out of sorts, fidgety, ants in my pants, and a bumblebee up my britches leg are things I’ve heard in this context.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 5, 2016 at 8:05 am

    Don’t recall hearing ‘jimmies’ and ‘jim jams’ rarely. Have heard ‘the willies’. To me, they means restlessness compounded with fear or dread, like we sometimes get when we think we will be getting bad news. Thankfully, my cases are infrequent and not severe.
    Hope none of you all get the ‘jim jams’ today.

  • Reply
    Bob & Inez Jones
    August 5, 2016 at 8:02 am

    Tipper- I wonder if the Jim-Jams are the same as having the willys? That is a phrase that is common here in New Brunswick. I believe it has near the same meaning. Is that a phrase that is familiar in your area? We are still enjoying all the music. I just got around to enjoying the full concert of the girls and Paul and you from the John Campbell outdoor venue in June. It was great!!! Are the girls going to college this fall? You are part of each day. Thanks .Inez

  • Reply
    Bob & Inez Jones
    August 5, 2016 at 8:02 am

    Tipper- I wonder if the Jim-Jams are the same as having the willys? That is a phrase that is common here in New Brunswick. I believe it has near the same meaning. Is that a phrase that is familiar in your area? We are still enjoying all the music. I just got around to enjoying the full concert of the girls and Paul and you from the John Campbell outdoor venue in June. It was great!!! Are the girls going to college this fall? You are part of each day. Thanks .Inez

  • Reply
    Bob & Inez Jones
    August 5, 2016 at 8:02 am

    Tipper- I wonder if the Jim-Jams are the same as having the willys? That is a phrase that is common here in New Brunswick. I believe it has near the same meaning. Is that a phrase that is familiar in your area? We are still enjoying all the music. I just got around to enjoying the full concert of the girls and Paul and you from the John Campbell outdoor venue in June. It was great!!! Are the girls going to college this fall? You are part of each day. Thanks .Inez

  • Reply
    Bob & Inez Jones
    August 5, 2016 at 8:02 am

    Tipper- I wonder if the Jim-Jams are the same as having the willys? That is a phrase that is common here in New Brunswick. I believe it has near the same meaning. Is that a phrase that is familiar in your area? We are still enjoying all the music. I just got around to enjoying the full concert of the girls and Paul and you from the John Campbell outdoor venue in June. It was great!!! Are the girls going to college this fall? You are part of each day. Thanks .Inez

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    August 5, 2016 at 7:55 am

    I have heard of the jimmies and have had them a few times myself, but mostly I get the heeby jeebies, especially after watching a horror movie

  • Reply
    Jerry in Arkansas
    August 5, 2016 at 7:53 am

    Since fire ants came to our area, we feel “antsy” pretty often.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 5, 2016 at 7:46 am

    Yes I get the jimmies sometimes. It’s like a restlessness that comes out of nowhere. Cleaning whether it’s the refrigerator or the house makes very good use of the jimmies.
    I don’t remember ever hearing of the jim jams. I have heard of the jim jammers meaning talking too much.

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