What’s a Gig?

Author: Patricia Lezynski

Whip thy Gig.

Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor’s Lost has been translated into numerous versions because of its unique dialogue but making it open for interpretation. In the Verse translation Pedant says the line: “Thou disputest like an infant: go whip thy Gig” (1403). Pedant is mocking Page for arguing like a child as he calls him an infant. His immature actions give Pedant the opportunity to make fun of him. Referring to his childlike behavior, Pedant also remarks that Page should go play with a gig. At first glance, I assumed gig was a horse because that is one of its many definitions. When I looked up “whirligig” in the Oxford English Dictionary, it gave the definition that it can also mean a “a toy consisting of a small spindle turned by means of a string.”

Most of the different Shakespeare versions use the line “go whip thy Gig” because it is precise and there is no other accurate description than this. In the late 1700s, gig also became known as a horse or horse carriage and that definition has stuck with that word to today. Gig being referred to as a spinning top is an earlier definition dating back to before this play was written hence why Shakespeare used it. I believe Shakespeare choose to use this term instead of saying a spinning top in order to captivate the reader’s attention. It still does to this day because we do not see the word gig used in this context very often.