Ongoing History Daily: The origin of the word “gig.”

Here’s an odd piece of trivia.  When a band plays a show, we say that they’ve got a “gig.”  Where the hell did the word “gig” come from?  Some dictionaries say that the word is derived from the word “engagement.” 

Linguists will say “No, it comes from the early part of this century when musicians used to travel by horse and cart.  The cart was called a ‘gig’ and when the band reached the next town, they would use the gig as a stage.” 

Therefore, to go to a “gig” used to mean “going out on the street to see a bunch of travelling musicians play from the back of their horse-drawn cart.” 

If you go back to Friday, you’ll find a post on a brazen Pearl Jam theft.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “Ongoing History Daily: The origin of the word “gig.”

  • January 30, 2023 at 4:30 am
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    the word gig is informal word or street word its abbrevaton of engage or find deep but it depend on nationalist or nation some used in their music songs to improve creativity

    Reply

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