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    jardiniere (n.) — Jessica

    jardiniere (n.)

    ornamental flower stand, 1841, from French jardinière "flower pot" (also "female gardener, gardener's wife"), noun use of fem. of adjective jardinier "of the garden," from jardin "garden; orchard; palace grounds," from Vulgar Latin *hortus gardinus "enclosed garden," via Frankish *gardo or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *gardaz, from PIE root *gher- (1) "to grasp, enclose."ETD jardiniere (n.).2

    jargon (n.)

    mid-14c., "unintelligible talk, gibberish; chattering, jabbering," from Old French jargon "a chattering" (of birds), also "language, speech," especially "idle talk; thieves' Latin" (12c.). Ultimately of echoic origin (compare Latin garrire "to chatter").ETD jargon (n.).2

    From 1640s as "mixed speech, pigin;" 1650s as "phraseology peculiar to a sect or profession," hence "mode of speech full of unfamiliar terms." Middle English also had it as a verb, jargounen "to chatter" (late 14c.), from French.ETD jargon (n.).3

    jarhead (n.)

    also jar-head, "U.S. Marine," by 1985 (but in a biographical book with a World War II setting), from jar + head (n.). Also used as a general term of insult (by 1979) and by 1922 as a Georgia dialectal word for "mule."ETD jarhead (n.).2

    jarl (n.)

    "nobleman," especially a Norse or Danish chieftain, from Old Norse jarl (see earl).ETD jarl (n.).2

    jasmine (n.)

    1570s, from French jasmin (earlier jessemin), from Arabic yas(a)min, from Persian yasmin (compare Greek iasme, iasmelaion, name of a Persian perfume which was perhaps oil of jasmine). The plant first was grown in England 16c. The forms in other Germanic languages also are from French.ETD jasmine (n.).2


    masc. proper name, from Greek Eason, from Hebrew Yehoshua, a common name among Hellenistic Jews (see Joshua). In Greek mythology, son of Aeson, leader of the Argonauts, from Latin Jason, from Greek Iason, perhaps related to iasthai "to heal" (see -iatric). The names were somewhat merged in Christian Greek.ETD Jason.2


    masc. proper name, English form of Caspar or of Gaspar, the traditional name of one of the Three Kings. Said by Klein to be of Persian origin and meaning literally "treasure-holder." Used from 1896 for "a rustic simpleton."ETD Jasper.2

    jasper (n.)

    precious stone, c. 1300, from Anglo-French jaspre, Old French jaspre, with unetymological -r-, a variant of jaspe (12c.), from Latin iaspidem (nominative iaspis), from Greek iaspis "jasper," via an Oriental language (compare Hebrew yashpeh, Akkadian yashupu). The modern use of the word is more restricted than in ancient times. Hence, from French, jaspé (1851 in English) "mottled or variegated like jasper."ETD jasper (n.).2

    jaundice (n.)

    "morbid condition characterized by yellowish skin and eyes (caused by bile pigments in the blood)," c. 1300, jaunis, from Old French jaunice, earlier jalnice, "yellowness" (12c.), from jaune/jalne "yellow," from Latin galbinus "greenish yellow" (also source of Italian giallo), extended form of galbus, which probably is from PIE root *ghel- (2) "to shine," with derivatives denoting "green" and "yellow." With unetymological -d- (see D).ETD jaundice (n.).2

    The figurative meaning "feeling in which views are colored or distorted" is recorded by 1620s, from yellow's association with bitterness and envy (see yellow (adj.)). In Old English geolu adl "yellow sickness;" in Middle English also gulesought.ETD jaundice (n.).3

    jaundice (v.)

    "to affect with prejudice or envy," 1791, but usually in figurative use. Related: Jaundiced.ETD jaundice (v.).2

    jaunt (n.)

    1670s in modern sense of "short pleasure trip," earlier "tiresome journey" (1590s), from jaunt (v.).ETD jaunt (n.).2

    jaunt (v.)

    "tire (a horse) by riding back and forth on it, ride hard," 1560s, of unknown origin, "the word being confused with other words of similar or related meanings" [Century Dictionary]. Not found in Middle English, perhaps from some obscure French word. Also "be jolted or shaken up" (1570s), main modern sense "wander here and there for pleasure" is from 1640s. Related: Jaunted; jaunting.ETD jaunt (v.).2

    jaunty (adj.)

    also janty, jantee, etc., 1660s, "elegant, stylish," an imperfect or jocular attempt to render into English the contemporary pronunciation of French gentil "nice, pleasing," in Old French "noble" (see gentle). Meaning "easy and sprightly in manner" first attested 1670s. The same French word otherwise was Englished as genteel. Related: Jauntily; jauntiness.ETD jaunty (adj.).2

    java (n.)

    "coffee," 1850, short for Java coffee (1787), originally a kind of coffee grown on Java and nearby islands of modern Indonesia. By early 20c. it meant coffee generally. The island name is shortened from Sanskrit Yavadvipa "Island of Barley," from yava "barley" + dvipa "island." Related: Javan (c. 1600); Javanese (1704).ETD java (n.).2

    javelin (n.)

    late 15c., "a dart," the general word for "a spear intended to be thrown by hand, with or without a throwing stick," from Old French javeline (15c.), Old Provençal javelina, fem. diminutive of Old French javelot "a spear" (12c.), probably from Gaulish or another Celtic source (compare Old Irish gabul "fork;" Welsh gafl "fork," gaflach "feathered spear"), from Celtic *gablakko-, from PIE *ghabholo- "a fork, branch of a tree." Also found in Italian (giavelotto) and Middle High German (gabilot). Javelot itself was borrowed in Middle English (mid-15c.), but this is the form of the word that has endured.ETD javelin (n.).2

    javelot (n.)

    "small spear," mid-15c.; see javelin.ETD javelot (n.).2

    jaw (n.)

    late 14c., jowe, joue, "the bones of the mouth," "A word of difficult etymology" [OED]. Probably from Old French joue "cheek," originally jode, from Gallo-Romance *gauta or directly from Gaulish *gabata, but there are phonetic problems; or perhaps a variant of Germanic words related to chew (v.); compare also the two nouns jowl. Replaced Old English ceace, ceafl. Jaws as "holding and gripping part of an appliance" is from mid-15c.; figuratively, of time, death, defeat, etc., from 1560s.ETD jaw (n.).2

    jaw (v.)

    1610s, "to catch in the jaws, devour," from jaw (n.). In slang from 1748, "to gossip, to speak;" 1810 as "to scold." Related: Jawed; jawing. Hence 19c. U.S. slang jawsmith "talkative person; loud-mouthed demagogue" (1887), nautical slang jaw-tackle "the mouth" (1829), and the back-formed colloquial noun jaw "rude talk, abusive clamor" (1748).ETD jaw (v.).2

    jawbone (n.)

    also jaw-bone, mid-15c., from jaw (n.) + bone (n.). Hence jawboning "lecturing, hectoring" (1966), a term associated with the U.S. presidential administration of Lyndon Johnson; compare jaw (v.).ETD jawbone (n.).2

    jaw-breaker (n.)

    also jawbreaker 1810, "word hard to pronounce" (jawbreakingly, in reference to pronouncing words, is from 1824), from jaw (n.) + agent noun from break (v.). As a type of hard candy, by 1911.ETD jaw-breaker (n.).2

    jaw-jaw (n.)

    "long pointless talking," 1958, from earlier verb meaning "talk tediously" (1831), from reduplication of jaw in a colloquial sense (see jaw (v.)). Related: Jaw-jawing.ETD jaw-jaw (n.).2

    jay-bird (n.)

    also jaybird, 1660s, from jay (n.) "the common jay" + bird (n.). It appears after jay (n.) began to be used of persons, too.ETD jay-bird (n.).2

    Jaycee (n.)

    1937, American English, acronym from pronunciation of J.C. (pronounced "jay-cee"), abbreviation of Junior Chamber (of Commerce).ETD Jaycee (n.).2

    jayhawker (n.)

    "freebooter, guerrilla," American English, 1858, originally "irregular or marauder during the 'Bleeding Kansas' troubles" (especially one who came from the North). It seems to have come into widespread use only during the Civil War. There was said to have been a bird of this name, but evidence for it is wanting. Perhaps a disparaging use from jay (n.). Hence back-formed verb jayhawk "harass" (1866).ETD jayhawker (n.).2

    jaywalking (n.)

    by 1912, American English (said in original citation to be a Kansas City term), from jay, perhaps with notion of boldness and impudence. Related: Jaywalk; jaywalker.ETD jaywalking (n.).2

    jazzed (adj.)

    "made more lively or colorful," 1919, past-participle adjective from jazz (v.).ETD jazzed (adj.).2

    jazz (n.)

    by 1912, American English, first attested in baseball slang; as a type of music, attested by 1915. Perhaps ultimately from slang jasm (1860) "energy, vitality, spirit," perhaps especially in a woman. This is perhaps from earlier gism in the same sense (1842).ETD jazz (n.).2

    Meaning "rubbish, unnecessary talk or ornamentation" is from 1918. Slang all that jazz "et cetera" first recorded 1939. Further observations from Porter's summation of the research:ETD jazz (n.).3

    jazz (v.)

    "to speed or liven up," 1917, from jazz (n.). Related: jazzed; jazzing.ETD jazz (v.).2

    Jazz Age

    1921; see jazz (n.); popularized 1922 in writings of F. Scott Fitzgerald; usually regarded as the years between the end of World War I (1918) and the Stock Market crash of 1929.ETD Jazz Age.2

    jazzbo (n.)

    1917, "low, vulgar jazz," from jazz (n.). Later in 20c. it was in use as a derogatory term for persons, especially blacks.ETD jazzbo (n.).2

    Jazzercise (n.)

    1977, originally a proprietary name, from jazz (n.) + ending from exercise (n.).ETD Jazzercise (n.).2

    jazzetry (n.)

    "poetry reading accompanied by jazz music," 1959, from jazz (n.) + poetry.ETD jazzetry (n.).2

    jazzy (adj.)

    "resembling jazz music, spirited, lively, exciting," 1918, from jazz (n.) + -y (2). Related: Jazzily; jazziness.ETD jazzy (adj.).2

    jazzman (n.)

    1917, from jazz (n.) + man (n.).ETD jazzman (n.).2

    jealous (adj.)

    c. 1200, gelus, later jelus, "possessive and suspicious," originally in the context of sexuality or romance (in any context from late 14c.), from Old French jalos/gelos "keen, zealous; avaricious; jealous" (12c., Modern French jaloux), from Late Latin zelosus, from zelus "zeal," from Greek zēlos, which sometimes meant "jealousy," but more often was used in a good sense ("emulation, rivalry, zeal"), from PIE root *ya- "to seek, request, desire" (see zeal). In biblical language (early 13c.) "tolerating no unfaithfulness." Also in Middle English sometimes in the more positive sense, "fond, amorous, ardent" (c. 1300) and in the senses that now go with zealous, which is a later borrowing of the same word, from Latin.ETD jealous (adj.).2

    Among the ways to express "jealous" in other tongues are Swedish svartsjuka, literally "black-sick," from phrase bara svarta strumpor "wear black stockings," also "be jealous." Danish skinsyg "jealous," literally "skin-sick," is from skind "hide, skin" said to be explained by Swedish dialectal expression fa skinn "receive a refusal in courtship."ETD jealous (adj.).3

    jealously (adv.)

    late 14c., "in a zealous manner;" 1718, "in a suspicious and possessive manner," from jealous + -ly (2).ETD jealously (adv.).2

    jealousy (n.)

    c. 1200 in reference to sexual possessiveness and suspicion, from Old French jalousie "enthusiasm, love, longing; jealousy" (12c.), from jalos "keen, zealous; avaricious; jealous" (see jealous). Also sometimes in Middle English in a sense "solicitude, carefulness, regard," the connecting notion being "watchfulness." Meaning "zeal, fervor, devotion" is from late 14c.ETD jealousy (n.).2


    masc. proper name, French equivalent of John (q.v.). The fem. proper name is from the French equivalent of Jane. Related: Jeanette.ETD Jean.2

    jeans (n.)

    see jean.ETD jeans (n.).2

    jean (n.)

    "twilled cotton cloth," mid-15c., Geayne, short for Gene fustian, from French jean fustian "fustian (a type of twilled cotton cloth) of Genoa," the Italian city, from Old French Jannes "Genoa," from Latin Genua (see Genoa). Compare obsolete jane, name of a small silver coin of Genoa that circulated in England 15c. The plural form jeans became standard by mid-19c. In the sense "trousers made of jeans" it is attested by 1908; noted as characteristic of teenagers from 1959. Not originally blue.ETD jean (n.).2

    Jedi (n.)

    characters in the "Star Wars" sagas, 1977, apparently an invented word.ETD Jedi (n.).2

    jeep (n.)

    early 1941, American English military slang, acronym from G.P., abbreviation of General Purpose (car), but certainly influenced by Eugene the Jeep (who had extraordinary powers but said only "jeep"), from E.C. Segar's comic strip "Thimble Theater" (home of Popeye the Sailor). Eugene the Jeep first appeared in the strip March 13, 1936. The vehicle was in development from 1940, and the Army planners' initial term for it was light reconnaissance and command car.ETD jeep (n.).2

    jeepers (interj.)

    1900, American English, euphemistic alteration of Jesus.ETD jeepers (interj.).2

    jeer (v.)

    1550s, gyr, "deride, to mock," of uncertain origin; perhaps from Dutch gieren "to cry or roar," or Middle Dutch scheeren or German scheren "to plague, vex," literally "to shear" (as a mark of contempt or disgrace). OED finds the suggestion that it is an ironical use of cheer "plausible and phonetically feasible, ... but ... beyond existing evidence." Related: Jeered; jeering.ETD jeer (v.).2

    jeer (n.)

    "a scoff, a taunt," 1620s, from jeer (v.).ETD jeer (n.).2


    personification of the perfect valet, 1930, from character in P.G. Wodehouse's novels. The surname is attested from 1120, perhaps from a pet form of Genevieve.ETD Jeeves.2

    jeez (interj.)

    minced oath, also jeeze, 1922, American English, euphemistic corruption of Jesus.ETD jeez (interj.).2

    Jeff (n.)

    shortened or familiar form of masc. proper name Jeffrey; in early to mid-20c., sometimes used by African-Americans to indicate a Southern rural poor white person, probably from Jeff Davis, president of the Confederate States of America.ETD Jeff (n.).2


    1799 (n.), 1800 (adj.), in reference to the politics and policies of U.S. politician and statesman Thomas Jefferson, first great leader of the Democratic Party and president 1801-09. The surname, literally "son of Geoffrey," is attested from mid-14c.; in Middle English also Jeffrison, Geffreysone, Geffrason. Jeffersonianism is from 1804 in reference to the political beliefs of Thomas Jefferson; often it means advocacy of the greatest possible individual and local freedom and corresponding restriction of the national government.ETD Jeffersonian.2


    masc. proper name, from Old French Jeufroi, Jefroi, variants of Geuffroi (see Geoffrey).ETD Jeffrey.2


    biblical name (II Samuel viii.16), used as a mild expletive in American English from 1857; presumably another euphemistic substitution for Jesus.ETD Jehosaphat.2


    1530, Tyndale's transliteration of Hebrew Tetragrammaton YHWH using vowel points of Adhonai "my lord" (see Yahweh). Used for YHWH (the full name being too sacred for utterance) in four places in the Old Testament in the KJV where the usual translation the lord would have been inconvenient; taken as the principal and personal name of God.ETD Jehovah.2

    The vowel substitution was originally made by the Masoretes as a direction to substitute Adhonai for "the ineffable name." European students of Hebrew took this literally, which yielded Latin JeHoVa (first attested in writings of Galatinus, confessor to Leo X, 1516). Jehovah's Witnesses "member of Watchtower Bible and Tract Society" first attested 1933; the organization founded c. 1879 by Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916); the name from Isaiah xliii.10.ETD Jehovah.3

    Jehovist (n.)

    1844 as the name given by scholars to the presumed author or authors of the parts of the Hexateuch in which the divine name is written Yhwh (see Jehovah) + -ist. Opposed to the Elohist. Sometimes Jahvist is used. Related: Jehovistic.ETD Jehovist (n.).2


    "fast, skillful driver," 1680s, from Jehu, a king of Israel in the Old Testament, who "driveth furiously" (II Kings ix.20). Sometimes also a generic name for "a coachman."ETD Jehu.2

    jejune (adj.)

    1610s, "dull in the mind, flat, insipid, wanting in interest," from Latin ieiunus "empty, dry, barren," literally "fasting, hungry," a word of obscure origin. De Vaan finds it to be from a PIE root meaning "to worship, reverence," hence "to sacrifice" (with cognates including Sanskrit yajati "to honor, worship, sacrifice," Avestan yaza- "to worship," Greek agios, agnos "holy;" see hagio-), and writes that the Latin word and its relatives "would be based on the habit to perform the first sacrifice of the day on an empty stomach." Related: jejunal; jejunally.ETD jejune (adj.).2

    jejunum (n.)

    second division of the small intestine, late 14c., from Modern Latin noun use of Latin ieiunum, neuter of ieiunus "empty" (see jejune). Translating Greek nestis (Galen). So called because it typically is found empty during dissections, perhaps because it would tend to drain in a body laid on its back.ETD jejunum (n.).2

    Jekyll and Hyde

    in reference to opposite aspects of a person's character is a reference to Robert Louis Stevenson's story, "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," published in 1886. Jekyll, the surname of the respectful and benevolent man, is of Breton origin and was originally a personal name. Hyde in reference to the dark, opposite side of one's personality is from 1887.ETD Jekyll and Hyde.2

    jell (v.)

    "assume the consistence of jelly," 1869, American English, probably a back-formation of jelly (n.). Related: Jelled; jelling. Figurative sense is first attested 1908. Middle English had gelen "congeal," but it disappeared after 15c.ETD jell (v.).2

    jelly (n.)

    late 14c., gelee, gelle, gelly, "semisolid substance from animal or vegetable material, spiced and used in cooking; chopped meat or fish served in such a jelly," from Old French gelee "a jelly," also "a frost," noun use of fem. past participle of geler "to congeal, to freeze," from Latin gelare "to freeze, congeal, stiffen," related to gelu "frost," from PIE *gela-, suffixed form of root *gel- "cold; to freeze."ETD jelly (n.).2

    By early 15c. it was used of any jellied or coagulated substance; from 16c. as "thickened juice of a fruit prepared as food."ETD jelly (n.).3

    jellied (adj.)

    1590s, "of the consistency of jelly;" 1895, sweetened with jelly; past-participle adjective from jelly (v.).ETD jellied (adj.).2

    jelly (v.)

    c. 1600, transitive and intransitive, from jelly (n.). Related: Jellied; jellying.ETD jelly (v.).2

    Jell-O (n.)

    also sometimes Jello, trademark for powdered gelatin food, advertised from 1900 by Genesee Pure Food Co., Le Roy, N.Y.ETD Jell-O (n.).2

    jellybean (n.)

    "small bean-shaped sugar candy with a firm shell and a thick gel interior," 1905, from jelly (n.) + bean (n.). So called for its shape. Soon used in U.S. slang for "stupid person," probably encouraged by the slang sense of bean as "head."ETD jellybean (n.).2

    jellyfish (n.)

    also jelly-fish, popular name of the medusa and similar sea-creatures, 1796, from jelly (n.) + fish (n.). So called for its soft structure. Figuratively, "person of weak character," 1883. Earlier it had been used of a type of actual fish (1707).ETD jellyfish (n.).2

    jellyroll (n.)

    also jelly-roll, "cylindrical cake containing jelly or jam," 1873, from jelly (n.) + roll (n.). As slang for "vagina; sexual intercourse" it dates from 1914 ("St. Louis Blues").ETD jellyroll (n.).2


    fem. personal name, biblical daughter of Job, from Hebrew Yemimah, literally "dove" (compare Arabic yamama). The Aunt Jemima ready-mix food product in U.S. was advertised from c. 1918; the name (and image) was on baking powder advertisements by 1896. It is the title of a minstrel song credited to Joe Lang, but this is not mentioned before 1901. Previously Aunt Jemima was a name in various works of fiction and poetry, without racial aspect.ETD Jemima.2


    a popular pet form of the masc. proper name James (in Middle English records, Gemme, Jemme are more common than Jimme). In mid-18c. often associated with effeminacy and male fastidiousness; hence jemmy (adj.) "spruce, neat" (1750), jemminess (1756). As "a short crowbar," favored by burglars, from 1811. Compare jimmy (n.).ETD Jemmy.2


    city of Thuringia, Germany, site of a famous university that dates to 16c.; attested from 9c. as Jani, from Old High German jani "strip of mown grass," ultimately from PIE root *ei- "to go."ETD Jena.2

    je ne sais quoi (n.)

    "an inexpressible something," French, literally "I do not know what."ETD je ne sais quoi (n.).2

    jennet (n.)

    "small Spanish horse," mid-15c., genet, from Old French genet, ginet, from Spanish jinete "a light horseman," which is probably from Arabic Zenata, name of a Barbary tribe [Klein, Dozy]. Sense transferred in English and French from the rider to the horse.ETD jennet (n.).2


    fem. personal name, originally another form of Jane, Janey and a diminutive of Jane or Janet; in modern use (mid-20c.) typically a shortening of Jennifer. Jenny is attested from c. 1600 as female equivalent of jack (n.), and like it applied to animals (especially of birds, of a heron, a jay, but especially Jenny wren, 1640s, in bird-fables the consort of Robin Redbreast). Also like jack used of machinery; Akrwright's spinning jenny (1783) is said to have been named for his wife, but is perhaps rather a corruption of gin (n.2) "engine."ETD Jenny.2


    fem. proper name, from Welsh Gwenhwyvar, from gwen "fair, white" + (g)wyf "smooth, yielding." The most popular name for girls born in America 1970-1984; all but unknown there before 1938. Also attested as a surname from late 13c.ETD Jennifer.2

    jeopardize (v.)

    "to expose to loss or injury," 1640s, from jeopardy + -ize. Related: Jeopardized; jeopardizing. As a verb, Middle English used simple jeopard (late 14c.), a back-formation from jeopardy.ETD jeopardize (v.).2

    jeopardy (n.)

    late 14c., jupartie , ioparde, etc., "danger, risk;" earlier "a cunning plan, a stratagem" (c. 1300), from or based on Old French jeu parti "a lost game," more correctly "a divided game, game with even chances" (hence "uncertainty"). The sense perhaps developed in Anglo-French.ETD jeopardy (n.).2

    This is from jeu "a game" (from Latin iocus "jest;" see joke (n.)) + parti, past participle of partir "to divide, separate" (10c.), from Latin partire/partiri "to share, part, distribute, divide," from pars "a part, piece, a share" (from PIE root *pere- (2) "to grant, allot"). Jeopardous "in peril" (mid-15c.) is now obsolete.ETD jeopardy (n.).3

    jeopardise (v.)

    chiefly British English spelling of jeopardize; for suffix, see -ize. Related: Jeopardised; jeopardising.ETD jeopardise (v.).2


    biblical judge of Israel, from Greek Iephthae, from Hebrew Yiphtah, literally "God opens," imperfective of pathah "he opened" (compare pethah "opening, entrance").ETD Jephthah.2

    jerboa (n.)

    small desert rodent, 1660s, Modern Latin, from Arabic jarbu "flesh of the loins," also the name of a small jumping rodent of North Africa. So called for the strong muscles of its hind legs. Compare gerbil.ETD jerboa (n.).2


    popular Englished form of Jeremiah (q.v.); compare French Jérémie.ETD Jeremy.2

    jeremiad (n.)

    a complaining tirade in a tone of grief or distress, 1780, from French jérémiade (1762), in reference to "Lamentations of Jeremiah" in the Old Testament.ETD jeremiad (n.).2


    masc. proper name, Old Testament prophet (compare jeremiad) who flourished c. 626-586 B.C.E., from Late Latin Jeremias, from Hebrew Yirmeyah, probably literally "may Jehovah exalt," but Klein suggests it also might be short for Yirmeyahu "the Lord casts, the Lord founds," and compares the first element in Jerusalem. The vernacular form in English was Jeremy.ETD Jeremiah.2


    Biblical city (Numbers xxii.1, etc.), perhaps ultimately from Hebrew yareakh "moon, month," and thus a reference to an ancient moon cult. As a figurative place of retirement (17c.), the reference is to II Samuel x.5.ETD Jericho.2

    jerk (v.1)

    "to pull with sudden energy," 1580s; earlier "to lash, strike as with a whip" (1540s, surviving only in dialect), of uncertain origin, perhaps echoic. Intransitive sense of "make a sudden spasmodic motion" is from c. 1600. Compare Middle English yerkid, an adjective apparently meaning "pulled tight" (early 15c.), which has the form of a past participle. Also compare Middle English ferken "move hastily; drive (something) forward," from Old English fercian "to proceed." Related: Jerked; jerking.ETD jerk (v.1).2

    jerk (v.2)

    "preserve (meat) by cutting into long thin strips and drying in the sun," 1707, American English, from American Spanish carquear, from charqui (see jerky). Related: Jerked.ETD jerk (v.2).2

    jerk (n.1)

    1550s, "stroke of a whip," from jerk (v.1). Sense of "sudden sharp pull or twist" is by 1570s. Meaning "involuntary spasmodic movement of limbs or features" recorded from 1805. As the name of a popular dance, it is attested from 1966.ETD jerk (n.1).2

    jerk (n.2)

    "tedious and ineffectual person," 1935, American English carnival slang, of uncertain origin. Perhaps from jerkwater "petty, inferior, insignificant" [Barnhart, OED]; alternatively from, or influenced by, verbal phrase jerk off "masturbate" [Rawson]. The lyric in "Big Rock Candy Mountain," sometimes offered as evidence of earlier use, apparently is "Where they hung the Turk [not jerk] that invented work."ETD jerk (n.2).2

    A soda-jerk (1915; soda-jerker is from 1883) is so called for the pulling motion required to work the taps.ETD jerk (n.2).3

    jerky (n.)

    1850, American English, from American Spanish charqui "jerked meat," from Quechua (Inca) ch'arki "dried flesh."ETD jerky (n.).2

    jerky (adj.)

    "characterized by jerks, spasmodic," 1819, originally in medical writing with reference to the pulse, from jerk (n.1) + -y (2). Related: Jerkily; jerkiness.ETD jerky (adj.).2

    jerkin (n.)

    "short, close-fitting men's jacket" popular 16c.-17c., 1510s, of uncertain origin, perhaps related to Dutch jurk "a frock," but this is a modern word, itself of unknown origin, and the initial consonant presents difficulties (Dutch -j- typically becomes English -y-).ETD jerkin (n.).2

    jerk off (v.)

    slang, "perform male masturbation," by 1896, from jerk (v.) denoting rapid pulling motion + off (adv.). Compare come off "experience orgasm" (17c.). Farmer and Henley ("Slang and Its Analogues") also lists as synonyms jerk (one's) jelly and jerk (one's) juice. The noun jerk off or jerkoff as an emphatic form of jerk (n.2) is attested by 1968. As an adjective from 1957.ETD jerk off (v.).2

    jerkwater (adj.)

    also jerk-water, "petty, inferior, insignificant," 1890, earlier in reference to certain railroad trains and lines (1878); in both cases the notion is of a steam locomotive crew having to take on boiler water from a trough or a creek because there was no water tank; see jerk (v.1) + water (n.1). This led to an adjectival use of jerk as "inferior, insignificant;" hence also jerkwater town (1893).ETD jerkwater (adj.).2

    jeroboam (n.)

    type of large wine bottle, 1816, from Biblical name Jeroboam, "a mighty man of valour" (I Kings xi.28) "who made Israel to sin" (xiv.16), from Hebrew Yarobh'am, literally "let the people increase."ETD jeroboam (n.).2


    masc. proper name, from French Jérome, from Late Latin Hieronymus, from Greek Hieronymos, literally "holy name," from hieros "holy" (see ire) + onyma, dialectal form of onoma "name" (from PIE root *no-men- "name").ETD Jerome.2

    Jerry (n.)

    World War I British Army slang for "a German; the Germans," 1919, probably an alteration of German based on the male nickname Jerry, popular form of Jeremy. But it also is said to be from the shape of the German helmet, which was thought to resemble a jerry, British slang for "chamber pot, toilet" (1850), this being probably an abbreviation of jeroboam, which is attested in this sense from 1827. Compare jerry-hat "round felt hat" (1841).ETD Jerry (n.).2

    jerry-built (adj.)

    "built hastily of shoddy materials," 1856, in a Liverpool context, from jerry "bad, defective," probably a pejorative use of the male nickname Jerry (a popular form of Jeremy; compare Jerry-sneak "sneaking fellow, a hen-pecked husband" [OED], name of a character in Foote's "The Mayor of Garret," 1764). Or from or influenced by nautical slang jury (adj.) "temporary," which came to be used of all sorts of makeshift and inferior objects.ETD jerry-built (adj.).2

    jerry-can (n.)

    "5-gallon metal container," 1943, from Jerry "a German." It was first used by German troops in World War II and later adopted by the Allies.ETD jerry-can (n.).2

    jersey (n.)

    1580s as a type of knitted cloth; 1842 as a breed of cattle; both from Jersey, one of the Channel Islands. Its name is said to be a corruption of Latin Caesarea, the Roman name for the island (or another near it), influenced by Old English ey "island" (see island); but it is perhaps rather a Viking name (perhaps meaning "Geirr's island").ETD jersey (n.).2

    The meaning "woolen knitted close-fitting tunic," especially one worn during sporting events, is from 1845. In American English, short for New Jersey from 1758. Related: Jerseyman.ETD jersey (n.).3


    holy city in ancient Judea, from Greek Hierousalem, from Hebrew Yerushalayim, literally "foundation of peace," from base of yarah "he threw, cast" + shalom "peace." Jerusalem "artichoke" (1650s) is folk etymology of Italian girasole "sunflower" (see girasole).ETD Jerusalem.2


    masc. proper name, biblical father of David and ancestor of Jesus, from Latin, from Greek Iessai, from Hebrew Yishay, of unknown origin. A rod out of the stem of Jesse (Isaiah xi.1) is regarded by Christians as one of the great prophesies of the Old Testament foretelling the coming of Christ; hence Tree of Jesse "decorative image of the genealogy of Jesus, with Jesse as the root;" to give (someone) Jesse "punish severely" (1839) is American English, probably a play on the "rod" in the Biblical verse. Related: Jessean.ETD Jesse.2

    jess (n.)

    leg-strap used in hawking and falconry, mid-14c., from Old French jes "straps fastened round the legs of a falcon," plural of jet, literally "a cast of a hawk, a throw, a throwing," from Latin iactus "a throw, a cast," from iacere "to throw, cast" (from PIE root *ye- "to throw, impel"). Related: Jesses.ETD jess (n.).2

    jessamine (n.)

    "jasmine," Middle English, from French jassemin (see jasmine). Also jessamy (1630s).ETD jessamine (n.).2


    fem. proper name, from Late Latin Jesca, from Greek Ieskha, from Hebrew Yiskah, name of a daughter of Haran (Genesis xi.29). Among the top 5 popular names for girls born in the U.S. every year between 1977 and 1997. The familiar form Jessie was one of many fem. names used 20c. for "cowardly or effeminate male" (1923).ETD Jessica.2

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