The jig is up is a common phrase that means a ruse or trick has been seen through, thus it is no longer fooling anyone.
The Origin Of ‘The Jig Is Up’
One of the definitions for the word “jig” today is to dance. So, for example, if someone is “doing a jig” that means they are dancing. However, dancing does not appear to have anything to do with the origin of this phrase. So where did it come from?
According to the Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, by Robert Hendrickson, it states that this expression was used during Elizabethan times (mid-to-late 16th century). During these times, the word “jig” became slang for a practical joke or trick. Thus, if “the jig was up” it meant that your trick was found out, or exposed. This era might be where the expression derives its meaning.
Here is an example of this idiom in a sentence:
- My friend tried fooling me by saying mozzarella cheese was an ingredient in cheesecake. After I looked up a recipe online, the jig was up.
- I wanted to sneakily eat the last doughnut in the box, but my wife caught me in the act. I attempted to hide it behind my back before she noticed, but that did not work; I wasn’t fooling anyone.