The first meaning is the narrow track where the stylus runs on records.

We often use the word groove to qualify the rythm, when it sounds right and feels good on jazz, funk, reggae music etc. Is it known when it starts to spread as the second meaning?

  • 2
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is a question about language and is more appropriate for english.stackexchange.com .
    – BCdotWEB
    Nov 29, 2016 at 11:05
  • 1
    I think it is related to music history, but I kind of doubt that you can exactly pinpoint when this happened as I garuntee it was informal description for a while before it became common.
    – Dom
    Nov 30, 2016 at 15:31
  • 3
    It's insane that this is close-voted, IMO.
    – user16
    Dec 3, 2016 at 11:08

1 Answer 1


From the Online Etymology Dictionary it starts to take a figurative sense of "routine" in 1842.

Then we have:

  • jazz slang in the groove: "performing well (without grandstanding) in 1932
  • american slang groovy: "first-rate, excellent" in 1937
  • teen slang groovey: "wonderful" in 1941

The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz by Barry Kernfeld states:

Within jazz circles, Gold identifies the phrase "in the groove" – which from around 1936 to 1945 (i.e., during the height of the swing era) was in widespread use in referring to jazz performances which were "excellent" or, by extension, "sophisticated" – and the term "groove" – referring in the 1940s and 1950s to "routine, preference, style, source of pleasure".

( . . . )

[groove] tends to operate with reference to styles from the latter third of the twentieth century which utilize characteristic accompanimental ostinatos drawn from African-derived dance music, whether African-American (e.g., soul, funk, disco, rap, hip-hop), Afro-Cuban dance music (e.g., salsa), or Afro-Brazilian (samba), or some other such fusion.

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