A couple of years ago, I wrote a Grammar 101 post outlining the difference between jibe and jive. If you get along or agree with something, you might say that you jibe with it. The look of this car really jibes with my personal style. But did you know there’s another word — gibe — that is pronounced exactly the same way but has an entirely different meaning?

And to further add to the confusion, the word “jibe” also has the alternate spelling “gybe” (though it is less common). In this way, if you say that Harry and Sally are really getting along, you could say they are “gybing” with one another… but that is entirely different from saying that they “gibe” at one another.

In all cases — gibe, jibe and gybe — the word rhymes with vibe or bribe, and starts with the same soft “g” sound as giraffe or gyroscope. They’re homophones in that they are all pronounced exactly the same way.

The definition of the word gibe, though, is decidedly less positive than that of jibe. A gibe (used as a noun) is an insult, a taunt or some other sort of mocking remark.

Before their big match, Johnny shot seething gibes at Daniel.

By extension, “gibe” can also be used as a verb to mean basically the same thing. It’s when you sneer, mock, taunt or jeer at someone else.

Despite their rivalry, Daniel refused to gibe back at Johnny.

And then you’ll find that sometimes “jibe” is used as a variant spelling of “gibe,” so the exact meaning can be even more unclear. This is why it’s so important to pay attention to context. Does that jibe with you? Are you going to gibe me about this in the comments?