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[jam] /dʒæm/
verb (used with object), jammed, jamming.
to press, squeeze, or wedge tightly between bodies or surfaces, so that motion or extrication is made difficult or impossible:
The ship was jammed between two rocks.
to bruise or crush by squeezing:
She jammed her hand in the door.
to fill too tightly; cram:
He jammed the suitcase with clothing.
to press, push, or thrust violently, as into a confined space or against some object:
She jammed her foot on the brake.
to fill or block up by crowding; pack or obstruct:
Crowds jammed the doors.
to put or place in position with a violent gesture (often followed by on):
He jammed his hat on and stalked out of the room.
to make (something) unworkable by causing parts to become stuck, blocked, caught, displaced, etc.:
to jam a lock.
  1. to interfere with (radio signals or the like) by sending out other signals of approximately the same frequency.
  2. (of radio signals or the like) to interfere with (other signals).
to play (a piece) in a freely improvised, swinging way; jazz up:
to jam both standard tunes and the classics.
Nautical. to head (a sailing ship) as nearly as possible into the wind without putting it in stays or putting it wholly aback.
verb (used without object), jammed, jamming.
to become stuck, wedged, fixed, blocked, etc.:
This door jams easily.
to press or push, often violently, as into a confined space or against one another:
They jammed into the elevator.
(of a machine, part, etc.) to become unworkable, as through the wedging or displacement of a part.
Jazz. to participate in a jam session.
the act of jamming or the state of being jammed.
a mass of objects, vehicles, etc., jammed together or otherwise unable to move except slowly:
a log jam; a traffic jam.
Informal. a difficult or embarrassing situation; fix:
He got himself into a jam with his boss.
Origin of jam1
1700-10; apparently imitative; cf. champ1, dam1


[jam] /dʒæm/
a preserve of whole fruit, slightly crushed, boiled with sugar:
strawberry jam.
put on jam, Australian Slang. to adopt a self-important manner or use affected speech.
1720-30; perhaps special use of jam1
Related forms
jamlike, jammy, adjective


1. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for jam
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They get meat rations every day--every day, mind you--and I hear they even get jam.

  • Treacle, you hear: and for that matter, Martha has no jam to give!

    Night and Morning, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • Meanwhile, the cook dashes another pint or two of water into the soup and gets a jam pudding well under way.

    Life and sport in China Oliver G. Ready
  • Before he could recover, the second or tail section of the jam started to pull.

    The Forest Stewart Edward White
  • If only I had a piece of cherry pie now, or an ice cream cone, or a bit of bread and butter and jam I would be all right.

    Uncle Wiggily's Travels Howard R. Garis
British Dictionary definitions for jam


verb jams, jamming, jammed
(transitive) to cram or wedge into or against something: to jam paper into an incinerator
(transitive) to crowd or pack: cars jammed the roads
to make or become stuck or locked: the switch has jammed
(transitive) often foll by on. to activate suddenly (esp in the phrase jam on the brakes)
(transitive) to block; congest: to jam the drain with rubbish
(transitive) to crush, bruise, or squeeze; smash
(radio) to prevent the clear reception of (radio communications or radar signals) by transmitting other signals on the same frequency
(intransitive) (slang) to play in a jam session
a crowd or congestion in a confined space: a traffic jam
the act of jamming or the state of being jammed
(informal) a difficult situation; predicament: to help a friend out of a jam
Derived Forms
jammer, noun
Word Origin
C18: probably of imitative origin; compare champ1


a preserve containing fruit, which has been boiled with sugar until the mixture sets
(slang) something desirable: you want jam on it
jam today, the principle of living for the moment
Word Origin
C18: perhaps from jam1 (the act of squeezing)


(Bible) James
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for jam

"to press tightly," also "to become wedged," 1706, of unknown origin, perhaps a variant of champ (v.). Of a malfunction in the moving parts of machinery, by 1851. Sense of "cause interference in radio signals" is from 1914. Related: Jammed; jamming. The adverb is recorded from 1825, from the verb.


"fruit preserve," 1730s, probably a special use of jam (v.) with a sense of "crush fruit into a preserve."

"a tight pressing between two surfaces," 1806, from jam (v.). Jazz meaning "short, free improvised passage performed by the whole band" dates from 1929, and yielded jam session (1933); but this is perhaps from jam (n.1) in sense of "something sweet, something excellent." Sense of "machine blockage" is from 1890, which probably led to the colloquial meaning "predicament, tight spot," first recorded 1914.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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jam in Medicine

jam (jām)
v. jammed, jam·ming, jams

  1. To block, congest, or clog.

  2. To crush or bruise.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for jam

jam 1


: Jam bands do have styles


  1. A predicament; bind, tight spot (1914+)
  2. (also traffic jam) A tight crush of cars, people, etc; jam-up (1917+)
  3. Small objects like rings and watches that are easy to steal (1925+ Underworld)
  4. A party or gathering where jazz musicians play for or with one another; jam session: Bix and the boys would blow it free and the jam was on (1930s+ Jazz musicians)
  5. party: Are you going to the jam tonight? (1930s+)
  6. The vulva; a woman's genitals (1896+)
  7. Cocaine; nose candy (1960s+ Narcotics)


  1. To play jazz with great spontaneity, esp to improvise freely with other musicians and usually without an audience (1930s+ Jazz musicians)
  2. To have a good time; party joyously; get it on: As for us, we danced, we jammed, and we wondered
  3. To make up a rap song, esp in a competitive situation (1970s+ New York teenagers)
  4. To make trouble for; coerce or harass, esp with physical force: than when they're jammin' me for a penny every time I walk down the street/ He knows what to say that will jam you and not jam you (1960s+)
  5. To do the sex act; copulate; screw: Did what? Jammed (1970s+ Students)
  6. To auction; act as an auctioneer (1950s+ Hawkers)
  7. To send an interfering signal on a broadcast channel one wishes to make unintelligible: An attempt was made to jam (1914+)
  8. To run away; skedaddle: Let's jam!/ I shifted ionto high gear and jammed it up to Santa Teresa (1990s+)
  9. To pitch the ball close to the batter, so that he is forced to hit it close to the gripped end of the bat (1960s+ Baseball)
  10. slam dunk (1990s+ Basketball)

Related Terms

in a jam, jim-jam, logjam, toe jam

[all senses have some relation to the asi notion of squeezing or crushing so as to make jam]

jam 2


A heterosexual man

[1970s+ Homosexuals; said to be fr just a man]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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jam in Technology

John and Martin. An interpreted FORTH-like graphics language by John Warnock and Martin Newell, Xerox PARC, 1978. JaM was the forerunner of both Interpress and PostScript. It is mentioned in PostScript Language reference Manual, Adobe Systems, A-W 1985.

A condition on a network where two nodes transmitting simultaneously detect the collision and continue to transmit for a certain time (4 to 6 bytes on Ethernet) to ensure that the collision has been detected by all nodes involved.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Related Abbreviations for jam


The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with jam


see under get in a bind
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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