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July 29, 2004

Slang of the Week: jump the broom (verb phrase)
get married

While Elizabeth Taylor holds one of the highest records for jumping the broom, Jennifer Lopez is working hard to catch up.

Celebrity quote:
“I'm in the White House, butt-naked and iced out
Turn the lights out, and I'm turnin' your wife out
Same chick you jumped the broom with, throwin' the rice out”
-Rapper Nelly in Let Me In Now

This phrase sometimes appears in rap and hip hop lyrics, though the custom it comes from is little practiced these days. Jumping the broom goes back to the years before the Civil War, when legal marriages were forbidden to African slaves in the United States.

Couples would perform the ritual of jumping over a broom to symbolize their new start in life together. The rite has made something of a comeback and Jumping the Broom, which details this and other traditional African American wedding customs, is now the name of a bestselling wedding planner by Harriette Cole.

But not everyone is interested in romantic traditions. Take Killer Mike, for example, who says in A.D.I.D.A.S., “From the tour bus to the lobby, elevator to the room, we can jump each others bones but there's no jumpin' brooms.” To jump someone’s bones is a vulgar term for having sex.

What’s new at Slang City?

  • What’s slang for $10,000?
  • What are gazelles?
  • Which is nicer: a hoopty or a whip?

Think you know? Check out the P.I.M.P. Quiz on slang about rappers’ status symbols and find out how you rate.