What Does The Jig Is Up Mean?

The Jig is Up Meaning

Definition: The lie is revealed; the trick is over.

This expression is typically used when someone has been lying about something or deceiving others in some way. Then, someone else uses this expression to let the first person know that they have been caught.

Origin of The Jig is Up

The word jig first began to be used in the 1500s and meant a type of dance. Informally, it also meant a trick.

Nowadays, the word jig still means dance, but its meaning of trick only survives in this idiom.

Examples of The Jig is Up

the jig is up the news is outThe below dialogue shows the idiom being used by two friends who are both hiding something from one another.

Giuseppe: Did you have fun tonight?

May: Actually, I felt like you were a little distracted throughout our whole dinner. Is there something you want to tell me?

Giuseppe: No, no, everything’s fine. I actually thought you were distracted. It seems like something is bothering you.

May: No, not at all.

Giuseppe: (Giuseppe’s phone rings, and May sees that her sister is calling him.) Oh no!

May: Why is my sister calling you? Does she want to talk to me?

Giuseppe: No. I guess the jig is up. Your sister and I just started dating. I didn’t want you to be upset, so I’ve been hiding it. I’m so sorry!

May: Actually, I’ve been dating your brother. I’m glad everything is out in the open now!

the jig was upThis dialogue uses the idiom in a conversation between a father and daughter about what has happened to all of the father’s missing shoes.

Rafal: Vesna, I’m missing yet another pair of shoes. Did you see someone come into the house to steal those as well?

Vesna: Um, yes. A very suspicious looking person stole those shoes, too.

Rafal: Don’t you think it’s strange that someone would come into the house and only steal shoes?

Vesna: No. You had very nice shoes.

Rafal: I did have nice shoes. Come on, Vesna. The jig is up. I know your dog ate my shoes. I’m not angry, but you have to train your dog better.

What is the correct turn of phrase?

The correct usage of the phrase is the jig is up. Occasionally, however, some people may say the gig is up. Gig is a different word, informally referring to a performing engagement or booking, usually by a musician, or in a broader sense, any job, especially one that is temporary, or alternatively, highly desired. Therefore, this is either done in error, through confusion of the words, or sometimes intentionally, as a pun.

More Examples

This excerpt uses the expression as a way to say that companies that have been using tax laws unethically will no longer be able to do so as they were before.

  • But there also are grounds for Apple investors — and those of other U.S. corporations that have been playing international tax rules like an orchestra for profit — to be worried about the EC investigation and its outcome. First and foremost, the jig is up.  –LA Times

The second excerpt uses the idiom in order to say that a certain company was lying about how its animals were treated, but now the truth is out.

  • “The jig is up,” said Jared Goodman, director of animal law for PETA. “People everywhere realize that SeaWorld is cruelty.” –LA Times


The jig is up means it’s over, and specifically is used to refer to lies, deception, or tricks.