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    jocular (adj.) — jowly (adj.)

    jocular (adj.)

    1620s, "disposed to joking," from Latin iocularis "funny, comic," from ioculus "joke," diminutive of iocus "pastime; a joke" (see joke (n.)). Often it implies evasion of an issue by a joke.ETD jocular (adj.).2

    jocund (adj.)

    late 14c., "pleasing, gracious; joyful," from Old French jocond or directly from Late Latin iocundus (source of Spanish jocunde, Italian giocondo), variant (influenced by iocus "joke") of Latin iucundus "pleasant, agreeable," originally "helpful," contraction of *iuvicundus, from iuvare "to please, benefit, help, give strength, support," which is from a PIE source perhaps related to the root of iuvenis "young person" (see young (adj.)).ETD jocund (adj.).2

    jocundity (n.)

    early 15c., from Old French jocondite or directly from Late Latin iocunditas, from iocundus (see jocund).ETD jocundity (n.).2

    jod (n.)

    "the letter -j-," Medieval Latin spelling of Hebrew letter yodh (see iota); a variant of jot (n.). Hence "the slightest bit" (1590s).ETD jod (n.).2

    jodhpurs (n.)

    1912, jodpores (earlier as jodhpur riding-breeches, 1899), from Jodhpur, former state in northwestern India. The city at the heart of the state was founded 1459 by Rao Jodha, a local ruler, and is named for him.ETD jodhpurs (n.).2

    Jody (n.)

    "civilian who is thought to be prospering back home with a soldier's sweetheart, wife, job, etc.," by 1979, said to date from World War II, from masc. proper name Jody, for no clear reason. Hence Jody call.ETD Jody (n.).2


    pet-form of Joseph (q.v.). Meaning "generic fellow, man" is from 1846. Used in a wide range of invented names meaning "typical male example of," for example Joe college "typical college man" (1932); Joe Blow "average fellow" is U.S. military slang, first recorded 1941. "Dictionary of American Slang" lists, among other examples, Joe Average, Beige, Lunch Bucket, Public, Sad, Schmoe, Six-pack, Yale, ZilchETD Joe.2

    joe (n.)

    "coffee," by 1932, likely derived from Java, a noted source of fine coffee, as explained in the glossary of naval terms in Robert P. Erdman, "Reserve Officer's Manual, United States Navy" (Washington, 1932). The guess that it is from the name of U.S. coffee merchant Joseph Martinson (c. 1880-1949) is not chronologically impossible, but it wants evidence and seems to have originated in the company's advertisements (1972).ETD joe (n.).2

    Earlier in American English (1772) it was the colloquial name of a Portuguese or Brazilian coin worth about $8, shortened from Johannes in this sense (1758), the Modern Latin form of Portuguese João (see John), name of a king of Portugal whose head and Latin inscription appeared on the coin.ETD joe (n.).3

    joey (n.)

    "young kangaroo," 1839, sometimes said to be from a native Australian word joè, but more recently often said to be of unknown origin. Perhaps an extended use of Joey, the familiar form of the male proper name Joseph, for which Partridge lists many common or coarse meanings in 20c. Australian slang. Farmer and Henley ("Slang and Its Analogues") quote an 1887 article on "Australian Colloquialisms":ETD joey (n.).2


    masc. proper name, from Hebrew Yoh'el, name of a minor Old Testament prophet, literally "the Lord is God;" the same name as Elijah (q.v.) but with the elements reversed.ETD Joel.2

    The personal name that became common in Devon and Cornwall and the Breton districts of Yorkshire and the Eastern Counties immediately after the Conquest is from Old Breton Iudhael, from Iud- "chief, lord" + hael "generous." It is the source of the modern British surname Joel, as well as Jewell, Joule, and Jolson.ETD Joel.3

    Joe Miller (n.)

    "stale joke," 1816, from Joseph Miller (1684-1738), a comedian, whose name was affixed after his death to a popular jest-book, "Joe Miller's Jests, or the Wit's Vade-mecum" (1739) compiled by John Mottley, which gave Miller after his death more fame than he enjoyed while alive.ETD Joe Miller (n.).2

    joepye-weed (n.)

    1818, said to be so called from the name of an Indian who used it to cure typhus in New England. The story dates from 1822.ETD joepye-weed (n.).2

    jog (v.)

    1540s, "to shake up and down," perhaps altered from Middle English shoggen "to shake, jolt, move with a jerk" (late 14c.), a word of uncertain origin. Meanings "touch or push slightly," "stir up or stimulate by hint or push," and "walk or ride with a jolting pace" all are from 16c.ETD jog (v.).2

    The modern sense in reference to running as training mostly dates from 1948; at first a regimen for athletes, it became a popular fad c. 1967. Perhaps this sense is extended from its use in horsemanship.ETD jog (v.).3

    Related: Jogged; jogging.ETD jog (v.).4

    jog (n.)

    c. 1600, "act of moving up and down," from jog (v.). Meaning "a slight push or nudge" is from 1630s; meaning "a slow run for fitness or conditioning" is from 1977.ETD jog (n.).2

    jogging (n.)

    1560s, verbal noun from jog (v.). In the running exercise sense, from 1948. As an adjective by 1971.ETD jogging (n.).2

    jogger (n.)

    c. 1700, "one who walks heavily and slowly," also "one who gives a sudden slight push;" agent noun from jog (v.). Running exercise sense is from 1968.ETD jogger (n.).2

    joggle (v.)

    1510s, "to shake slightly, jostle," apparently a frequentative of jog (v.), though attested earlier than it. As a noun from 1727. Related: Joggled; joggling. Carpentry and masonry sense "fit together with notches and projections" is from 1703, of unknown origin; also as a noun "a notch in a piece into which is fitted the projection of another piece; hence joggle-post, etc.ETD joggle (v.).2

    jog-trot (adj.)

    1766, "monotonous, hum-drum," from earlier noun meaning "slow, easy motion on horseback" (18c.), also job-trot, jock-trot; see jog (v.) + trot (n.).ETD jog-trot (adj.).2

    Johannine (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to the Apostle John," 1839, perhaps via French, from Latin Joannes (see John) + -ine (1). Johannean is from 1842.ETD Johannine (adj.).2

    john (n.)

    "toilet," 1932, probably from jakes, used for "toilet" since 15c. Meaning "prostitute's customer" is from 1911, probably from the common, and thus anonymous, name by which they identified themselves. Meaning "policeman" is by 1901, from shortening of johndarm (1823), a jocular Englishing of gendarme.ETD john (n.).2


    masc. proper name, Middle English Jon, Jan (mid-12c.), from Old French Jan, Jean, Jehan (Modern French Jean), from Medieval Latin Johannes, an alteration of Late Latin Joannes, from Greek Ioannes, from Hebrew Yohanan (longer form y'hohanan), said to mean literally "Jehovah has favored" or "Jah is gracious," from hanan "he was gracious."ETD John.2

    Greek conformed the Hebrew ending to its own customs. The -h- in English was inserted in imitation of the Medieval Latin form. Old English had the Biblical name as Iohannes. As the name of John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, it was one of the most frequent Christian given names, and in England by early 14c. it rivaled William in popularity and was used generically (in Middle English especially of priests) and as an appellative (as in John Barleycorn, John Bull, John Q. Public). Somehow it also became the characteristic name of a Chinaman (1818).ETD John.3

    The Latin name also is the source of French Jean, Spanish Juan, Italian Giovanni, Portuguese João, also Dutch Jan, Hans, German Johann, Russian Ivan. Welsh form was Ieuan, Efan (see Evan), but Ioan was adopted for the Welsh Authorized Version of the Bible, hence frequency of Jones as a Welsh surname.ETD John.4

    John Bull

    "Englishman who exemplifies the coarse, burly form and bluff nature of the national character," 1772, from name of a character representing the English nation in Arbuthnot's satirical "History of John Bull" (1712). Via a slurred pronunciation of it comes jumble (n.), London West Indian and African slang word for "a white man," attested from 1957.ETD John Bull.2

    John Doe (n.)

    fictitious plaintiff in a legal action, attested from 1768 (in Blackstone). The fictitious defendant was Richard Roe. If female, Jane Doe, Jane Roe. Replaced earlier John-a-nokes (1530s) or Jack Nokes, who usually was paired with John-a-stiles or Tom Stiles.ETD John Doe (n.).2

    Also used of plaintiffs or defendants who have reason to be anonymous. By 1852, John Doe was being used for "any man whose name is not known;" Britain tended to preserve it in the narrower legal sense "name of the fictitious plaintiff in actions of ejectment." John Doe warrant attested from 1935.ETD John Doe (n.).3

    John Hancock

    colloquial for "signature," 1903 (sometimes, through some unexplainable error, John Henry), from the Boston merchant and rebel (1736-1793), signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. The extended sense is from his signing that dangerous document first or most flamboyantly.ETD John Hancock.2

    The family name is attested from 1276 in Yorkshire, a diminutive (see cock (n.1)) of Hann, a very common given name in 13c. Yorkshire as a pet form of Henry or John.ETD John Hancock.3


    see Johnny.ETD Johnnie.2


    pet form of masc. proper name John, with -y (3). Used as a contemptuous or humorous designation for some class or group of men from 1670s.ETD Johnny.2

    It was the typical name in the North and the Northern armies for a Confederate soldier during the American Civil War, and the Southern soldiers were, collectively Johnnies, generically Johnny Reb. In the Mediterranean, it was a typical name for an Englishman by c. 1800. In the Crimean War it became the typical name among the English for "a Turk" (also Johnny Turk), later it was extended to Arabs; by World War II the Arabs were using Johnny as the typical name for "a British man"). Johnny Crapaud as a derogatory generic name for a Frenchman or France is from 1818.ETD Johnny.3

    Johnny-come-lately "a new arrival" first attested 1839. Johnny-on-the-spot is from 1896. Johnny-jump-up as an American English name for the pansy is from 1837. Johnny-cocks, a colloquial name for the early purple orchid (Orchis mascula) is attested from 1883.ETD Johnny.4

    johnny-cake (n.)

    1739, American English, of unknown origin, perhaps a corruption of Shawnee cake, from the Indian tribe. Folk etymology since 1775, however, connects it to journey cake. Century Dictionary says "It is of negro origin."ETD johnny-cake (n.).2

    John Q. Public (n.)

    "imaginary average American citizen," 1934; the Q perhaps suggested by John Quincy Adams.ETD John Q. Public (n.).2

    johnson (n.)

    "penis," 1863, perhaps related to British slang John Thomas, which has the same meaning (1887).ETD johnson (n.).2

    joy (n.)

    c. 1200, "feeling of pleasure and delight;" c. 1300, "source of pleasure or happiness," from Old French joie "pleasure, delight, erotic pleasure, bliss, joyfulness" (11c.), from Latin gaudia "expressions of pleasure; sensual delight," plural of gaudium "joy, inward joy, gladness, delight; source of pleasure or delight," from gaudere "rejoice," from PIE root *gau- "to rejoice" (cognates: Greek gaio "I rejoice," Middle Irish guaire "noble").ETD joy (n.).2

    As a term of endearment from 1580s. Joy-riding is American English, 1908; joy-ride (n.) is from 1909.ETD joy (n.).3

    joie de vivre (n.)

    1889, French, literally "joy of living."ETD joie de vivre (n.).2

    join (v.)

    c. 1300, "to unite (things) into a whole, combine, put or bring together; juxtapose," also "unite, be joined" (intrans.), from joign-, stem of Old French joindre "join, connect, unite; have sexual intercourse with" (12c.), from Latin iungere "to join together, unite, yoke," from nasalized form of PIE root *yeug- "to join."ETD join (v.).2

    Meaning "unite, become associated, form an alliance" is from early 14c. Meaning "to unite (two persons) in marriage" is from mid-14c. Figuratively (of virtues, qualities, hearts, etc.) from late 14c. Of battles, "to begin," from late 14c. In Middle English join on (c. 1400) meant "to attack (someone), begin to fight with." Meaning "go to and accompany (someone)" is from 1713; that of "unite, form a junction with" is from 1702. Related: Joined; joining.ETD join (v.).3

    Join up "enlist in the army" is from 1916. Phrase if you can't beat them, join them is from 1953. To be joined at the hip figuratively ("always in close connection") is by 1986, from the literal sense in reference to "Siamese twins." In Middle English, join sometimes is short for enjoin.ETD join (v.).4

    joinder (n.)

    "act of joining together" (usually in specific legal senses), c. 1600, from French joindre "to join," taken as a noun, from Latin iungere "to join together, unite, yoke," from nasalized form of PIE root *yeug- "to join."ETD joinder (n.).2

    joiner (n.)

    early 14c. (late 12c. as a surname), joynour "maker of furniture, small boxes, etc.," from Old French joigneor "joiner, carpenter," agent noun from joindre "to join" (see join (v.)). A craftsman in wood who did lighter and more ornamental work; often meaning the carpenter who does the internal and external finishings of a house, ship, etc. Meaning "one who makes a habit of joining" (societies, clubs, etc.) is from 1890. Related: Joinery.ETD joiner (n.).2

    joint (adj.)

    early 15c., "united or sharing" (in some activity), from Old French jointiz (adj.) "joined together, close together" and Old French joint (14c.), past-participle adjective from joindre "to join, connect, unite," from Latin iungere "to join together," from nasalized form of PIE root *yeug- "to join."ETD joint (adj.).2

    joint (n.)

    c. 1300, "an (anatomical) joint, a part of a body where two bones meet and move in contact with one another, the structure that holds such bones together," from Old French joint "joint of the body" (12c.), from Latin iunctus "united, connected, associated," past participle of iungere "to join together," from nasalized form of PIE root *yeug- "to join." Related: Joints.ETD joint (n.).2

    In general use from late 14c., of insect and plant parts, also "that which joins two components of an artificial structure." In butchering, "cut of meat on the bone," early 15c. Slang or cant meaning of "place, building, establishment" (especially one where persons meet for shady activities) first recorded 1877; earlier it was used in an Anglo-Irish context (1821), perhaps on the notion of a private side-room, one "joined" to a main room. In late 19c. U.S. use especially "an opium-smoking den" (1883).ETD joint (n.).3

    Meaning "marijuana cigarette" (1938) is perhaps from notion of something often smoked in common, but there are other possibilities; earlier joint in drug slang meant "hypodermic outfit" (1935). Meaning "prison" is attested from 1953 but probably is older. Out of joint in the figurative sense "disordered, confused, gone wrong" is from early 15c. (literally, of bone displacement, late 14c.). Joint-stock "of or pertaining to holding stock in shares" is from 1610s.ETD joint (n.).4

    jointed (adj.)

    "provided with joints," early 15c., from joint (n.).ETD jointed (adj.).2

    jointly (adv.)

    c. 1300, from joint (adj.) + -ly (2). It seems to have chased out joinly (early 15c.).ETD jointly (adv.).2

    jointure (n.)

    late 14c., "act or fact of being joined," from Old French jointure "a putting together," from Latin iunctura "a joining, juncture," from iunctus, past participle of iungere "to join together," from nasalized form of PIE root *yeug- "to join." Specific legal sense is from mid-15c.: "estate or property settled on an intended husband and wife, meant as a provision for the latter."ETD jointure (n.).2

    joist (n.)

    "timbers supporting a floor, etc.," early 14c. gist, giste, from Old French giste "beam supporting a bridge" (Modern French gîte), noun use of fem. past participle of gesir "to lie," from Latin iacēre "to lie, rest," related (via the notion of "to be thrown") to iacere "to throw" (from PIE root *ye- "to throw, impel"). The notion is of a wooden beam on which boards "lie down." The modern English vowel is a corruption.ETD joist (n.).2

    joke (n.)

    1660s, joque, "a jest, something done to excite laughter," from Latin iocus "joke, jest, sport, pastime" (source also of French jeu, Spanish juego, Portuguese jogo, Italian gioco), from Proto-Italic *joko-, from PIE *iok-o- "word, utterance," from root *yek- (1) "to speak" (cognates: Welsh iaith, Breton iez "language," Middle Irish icht "people;" Old High German jehan, Old Saxon gehan "to say, express, utter;" Old High German jiht, German Beichte "confession").ETD joke (n.).2

    Originally a colloquial or slang word. Meaning "something not real or to no purpose, someone not to be taken seriously" is from 1791. Black joke is old slang for "smutty song" (1733), from use of that phrase in the refrain of a then-popular song as a euphemism for "the monosyllable." Lithuanian juokas "laugh, laughter," in plural "joke(s)" probably is borrowed from German.ETD joke (n.).3

    joke (v.)

    1660s, "to make a joke," from joke (n.) or else from Latin iocari "to jest, joke," from iocus "joke, sport, pastime." Related: Joked; joking.ETD joke (v.).2

    joking (n.)

    "jesting, witty playfulness," 1660s, verbal noun from joke (v.). Related: Jokingly.ETD joking (n.).2

    joker (n.)

    1729, "jester, merry fellow, one who jokes," agent noun from joke (v.). In generic slang use for "any man, fellow, chap" by 1811, which probably is the source of the meaning "odd face card in the deck" (1868), also often jolly joker. An 1857 edition of Hoyle's "Games" lists a card game called Black Joke in which all face cards were called jokers.ETD joker (n.).2

    jokester (n.)

    1819, from joke + -ster. Jokesmith is from 1813.ETD jokester (n.).2

    joky (adj.)

    1825, from joke (n.) + -y (2). Related: Jokily; jokiness. Other adjective forms have included jokesome (1810), jokish (1785).ETD joky (adj.).2

    jolie laide (n.)

    "girl or woman whose attractiveness defies standards of beauty," 1849, a French expression (by 1780 in French), from fem. singular of joli "pretty" (see jolly) + laid "ugly," from Frankish *laid (see loath (adj.)).ETD jolie laide (n.).2

    jolliness (n.)

    late 14c., from jolly + -ness.ETD jolliness (n.).2

    jolly (adj.)

    c. 1300 (late 13c. as a surname, late 14c. as the name of a dog), "merry, cheerful, naturally of a happy disposition; comical; suggesting joy or merriment," from Old French jolif "festive, merry; amorous; pretty" (12c., Modern French joli "pretty, nice"), a word of uncertain origin. It has an apparent cognate in Italian giulivo "merry, pleasant."ETD jolly (adj.).2

    It is often suggested that the word is ultimately Germanic, from a source akin to Old Norse jol "a winter feast" (see yule). OED, however, finds this "extremely doubtful," based on "historic and phonetic difficulties." Perhaps the French word is from Latin gaudere "to rejoice," from PIE *gau- "to rejoice" (see joy).ETD jolly (adj.).3

    Meaning "great, remarkable, uncommon" is from 1540s, hence its use as a general intensifier in expressions of admiration. Colloquial meaning "somewhat drunk" is from 1650s. As an adverb from early 15c., "stoutly, boldly." For loss of -f, compare tardy, hasty. Related: Jolliness. Broader Middle English senses, mostly now lost, include "vigorous, strong, youthful" (c. 1300); "amorous; lecherous; ready to mate; in heat" (c. 1300); "pleasing, beautiful, handsome; noble-looking; handsomely dressed" (c. 1300); playful, frisky (mid-14c.); "arrogant, overweening, foolish" (mid-14c.).ETD jolly (adj.).4

    jollification (n.)

    "mirth, scene or occasion of merrymaking," 1769, from jolly + -fication "a making or causing." Shortened form jolly (1905) led to phrase get (one's) jollies "have fun" (1957). Spenser has jolliment (1590).ETD jollification (n.).2

    jollify (v.)

    1824, a back-formation from jollification. Related: Jollified; jollifying. Middle English had jolifen, joleiven "be cheerful, be cheering" (late 14c.); to jolly (v.) is attested from c. 1600.ETD jollify (v.).2

    jollily (adv.)

    c. 1300, from jolly (adj.) + -ly (2).ETD jollily (adv.).2

    jollity (n.)

    early 14c., jolyfte, iolite, "merrymaking, revelry," also "agreeableness, attractiveness, beauty, elegance;" from Old French jolivete "gaity, cheerfulness; amorous passion; life of pleasure," from jolif "festive, merry" (see jolly).ETD jollity (n.).2

    From late 14c. as "lightheartedness, cheerfulness." A word with more senses in Middle and early Modern English than recently: "sexual pleasure or indulgence, lust" (mid-14c.); "insolent presumptuousness, impudence" (mid-14c.); "vigor, strength" (mid-14c.); "love; a love affair" (c. 1300, hence in jollity "by fornication, out of wedlock"); "gallantry" (1530s); "state of splendor" (1540s).ETD jollity (n.).3

    jolly-boat (n.)

    "small boat hoisted at the stern of a vessel," 1727; the jolly is of unknown origin, probably from Danish jolle (17c.) or Dutch jol (1680s), both related to yawl; or it may be from Middle English jolywat (late 15c.) "a ship's small boat," of unknown origin.ETD jolly-boat (n.).2

    Jolly Roger (n.)

    pirate flag, attested under that name by 1724, of unknown origin; jolly here has its otherwise obsolete sense "high-hearted, gallant." Also see Roger, the sense of which here is, again, uncertain. A glossary of Banffshire words compiled by the Rev. Walter Gregor and published in 1866 gives a definition of Rodger as "anything of its kind large and ugly," also "Any animal big and ugly," also "A big person of rude manners." It also has a verb rodger "to beat with violence." Perhaps there is a connection.ETD Jolly Roger (n.).2

    For the use of jolly, compare Jolly robin "handsome or charming man, gaily dressed man, carefree dandy" (late 14c.) also French roger-bontemps "jovial, carefree man" (15c.).ETD Jolly Roger (n.).3

    jolting (adj.)

    1590s, present-participle adjective from jolt (v.). Related: Joltingly.ETD jolting (adj.).2

    jolt (v.)

    1590s (transitive), perhaps from Middle English jollen, chollen "to knock, to batter" (early 15c.), or an alteration of obsolete jot (v.) "to jostle" (1520s). Perhaps related to earlier jolt head "a big, stupid head" (1530s). Intransitive sense from 1703. Figurative sense of "to startle, surprise" is from 1872. Related: Jolted; jolting.ETD jolt (v.).2

    jolt (n.)

    1590s, "a knock," from jolt (v.). Meaning "a jarring shock" is from 1630s.ETD jolt (n.).2

    jolt-head (n.)

    "a stupid head," 1530s; later also "a big, clumsy, stupid person." The origin and signification of jolt here is unknown.ETD jolt-head (n.).2


    masc. proper name, from Late Latin Jonas, from Greek Ionas, from Hebrew yonah "dove, pigeon" (compare Jonah).ETD Jonas.2


    masc. proper name, biblical prophet and subject of the Book of Jonah, from Hebrew Yonah, literally "dove, pigeon." In nautical use (and extended) "person on shipboard regarded as the cause of bad luck" (Jonah 1.v-xvi).ETD Jonah.2


    masc. proper name, biblical son of Saul, from Hebrew Yonathan, short for Yehonathan, literally "the Lord has given" (compare Nathan). Also compare John.ETD Jonathan.2

    As a pre-Uncle Sam emblem of the United States, sometimes personified as Brother Jonathan, it dates from 1816. Traditionally it is said to be from George Washington's use of it in reference to Gov. Jonathan Trumbull Sr. of Connecticut (1710-1785), to whom he sometimes turned for advice (see II Samuel i.26); hence "a New Englander," and eventually "an American." But this story is only from the mid-19c. and is not supported by the record. There is some evidence that Loyalists and British soldiers used Jonathan to refer to the Americans in the Revolution, perhaps because it was a common New England name at the time (see Albert Matthews, "Brother Jonathan Once More," Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Transactions, 32 (1935), p. 374). As a variety of red apple it dates from 1831, so called because it was introduced in the U.S.ETD Jonathan.3


    surname, literally "John's (child);" see John. Phrase keep up with the Joneses (1917, American English) is from Keeping Up with the Joneses, the title of a popular newspaper comic strip by Arthur R. "Pop" Momand (1886-1987) which debuted in 1913 and chronicled the doings of the McGinnis family in its bid to match the living style of the Joneses. The slang sense "intense desire, addiction" (1968) probably arose from earlier use of Jones as a synonym for "heroin," presumably from the proper name, but the connection, if any, is obscure. Related: Jonesing.ETD Jones.2

    jongleur (n.)

    "wandering minstrel of medieval times," 1779, a revival in a technical sense (by modern historians and novelists) of Norman-French jongleur, a variant of Old French jogleor "minstrel, itinerant player; joker, juggler, clown" (12c.), from Latin ioculator "jester, joker" (see juggler).ETD jongleur (n.).2

    jonquil (n.)

    1660s, species of narcissus, from French jonquille (17c.), from Spanish junquillo, diminutive of junco "rush, reed," from Latin iuncus "reed, rush," from Proto-Italic *joiniko-, from PIE *ioi-ni- (cognates: Middle Irish ain "reeds, rushes," Old Norse einir, Swedish en "juniper"). So called in reference to the form of its leaves.ETD jonquil (n.).2

    From 1791 as the name of a pale yellow color, like that of the flower, and thus a type of canary bird (1865) of that color.ETD jonquil (n.).3

    jook (v.)

    "stoop or duck quickly; elude by darting or dodging," 1510s, Scottish, of unknown origin. Related: Jooked; jooking. Also see jouk.ETD jook (v.).2


    river in ancient Palestine; the crossing of it is symbolic of death in high-flown language as a reference to Numbers xxxiii.51. Also a type of pot or vessel (late 14c.), especially a chamber-pot, but the sense there is unknown. The modern nation-state dates to 1921. Related: Jordanian.ETD Jordan.2


    masc. proper name, from Spanish José, Spanish form of Joseph.ETD Jose.2


    masc. proper name, biblical son of Jacob and Rachel, and in the New Testament the name of the husband of Mary, mother of Jesus; from Late Latin Joseph, Josephus, from Greek Ioseph, from Hebrew Yoseph (also Yehoseph; see Psalm lxxxi.6) "adds, increases," causative of yasaph "he added." Its use in names of clothing and plants often is in reference to his "coat of many colors" (Genesis xxxvii.3).ETD Joseph.2


    fem. proper name, from French Jósephine, fem. of Joseph. Another fem. form in English is Josepha.ETD Josephine.2

    josh (v.)

    "to make fun of, to banter," 1845 (intransitive), 1852 (transitive), American English; according to "Dictionary of American Slang," the earliest example is capitalized, hence it is probably from the familiar version of the proper name Joshua. Perhaps it was taken as a typical name of an old farmer.ETD josh (v.).2

    If those dates are correct, the word was in use earlier than the career of U.S. humorist Josh Billings, pseudonym of Henry Wheeler Shaw (1818-1885), who did not begin to write and lecture until 1860; but his popularity after 1869 may have influence that of the word, or even re-coined it, as it does not seem to have been much in print before 1875.ETD josh (v.).3

    Related: Joshed; joshing.ETD josh (v.).4


    masc. proper name, biblical successor of Moses as leader of the Israelites, from Late Latin Jeshua, Joshua, a transliteration of Hebrew Yehoshua, literally "the Lord is salvation." In the top 10 list of names for boys in the U.S. since 1979. Joshua-tree (1867) is perhaps [OED] so called because its shape compared to pictures of Joshua brandishing a spear (Joshua viii.18).ETD Joshua.2

    joss (n.)

    "Chinese figure of a deity," 1711, from Chinese Pidgin English, from Javanese dejos, a word formed 16c. from Portuguese deus "god," from Latin deus (from PIE root *dyeu- "to shine," in derivatives "sky, heaven, god"). Colloquially, it came to mean "luck." Joss-stick "Chinese incense" first recorded 1831.ETD joss (n.).2

    jostle (v.)

    1540s, justle, "to knock against" (transitive), formed from jousten "to joust, tilt, fight in single combat" (see joust (v.)) + frequentative suffix -le (see -el (3)). According to OED, the usual spelling 17c.-18c. was justle. An earlier meaning of the word was "to have sex with" (c. 1400). Meaning "contend for the best position or place" is from 1610s. Related: Jostled; jostling. As a noun from c. 1600.ETD jostle (v.).2

    jot (n.)

    "the least part of anything," 1520s, from Latin iota, from Greek iota "the letter -i-," the smallest letter in the Greek alphabet, also "the least part of anything" (see iota). Usually (and originally) with tittle, from Matthew v.18.ETD jot (n.).2

    jot (v.)

    "to make a short note of, set down quickly in writing or drawing," 1721, apparently from jot (n.) on the notion of a brief note or sketch. Related: Jotted; jotting.ETD jot (v.).2

    jota (n.)

    Spanish folk dance in three-quarter time, also la Jota Aragonesa (it seems to have originated in Aragon); by 1830 in English, of uncertain etymology.ETD jota (n.).2

    jotun (n.)

    "one of the race of giants in Scandinavian mythology," 1804, a word revived by scholars from Old Norse jotunn "a giant," from the common Germanic word (see ettin).ETD jotun (n.).2

    joual (n.)

    "colloquial Canadian French," 1959, from "joual," the colloquial Canadian French pronunciation of French cheval "horse" (see cavalier (n.)). The term was brought to attention by Quebec journalist André Laurendeau.ETD joual (n.).2

    jouissance (n.)

    late 15c., "possession and use" (of something), from Old French joissance, from joissant "happy, glad," present participle of joir "to enjoy, take delight in, take pleasure in" (see enjoy). Meaning "enjoyment, joy, mirth" is from 1570s.ETD jouissance (n.).2

    jouk (v.)

    "stoop or duck quickly; elude by darting or dodging," c. 1500, alternative spelling of jook. Hence joukery "underhanded dealing" (1560s) and extended forms joukery-pawkery (1680s), joukery-cookery (1822).ETD jouk (v.).2

    joule (n.)

    unit of electrical energy, 1882, coined in recognition of British physicist James P. Joule (1818-1889). The surname is a variant of Joel. Related: Joulemeter.ETD joule (n.).2

    jounce (v.)

    "to jolt or shake," especially by rough riding, mid-15c., a word of unknown origin, perhaps suggested by jump and bounce. "Several words in -ounce, as bounce, flounce, pounce, trounce are of obscure history" [OED]. Related: Jounced; jouncing. The noun is 1787, from the verb.ETD jounce (v.).2

    journal (n.)

    mid-14c., "book of church services," from Anglo-French jurnal, from Old French jornel, "a day; time; a day's travel or work" (12c., Modern French journal), properly "that which takes place daily," noun use of adjective meaning "daily, of the day," from Late Latin diurnalis "daily," from Latin dies "day," from PIE root *dyeu- "to shine."ETD journal (n.).2

    The meaning "book for inventories and daily accounts" is from late 15c. in English (14c. in French); that of "personal diary" is c. 1600, also from a sense developed in French. Meaning "daily publication" is from 1728. Classical Latin used diurnus for "of the day, by day," and also as a noun, "account-book, day-book."ETD journal (n.).3

    Initial -d- in Latin usually remains in French, but according to Brachet, when it is followed by an -iu-, the -i- becomes consonantized as a -j- "and eventually ejects the d." He also cites jusque from de-usque.ETD journal (n.).4

    journalism (n.)

    "business of writing, editing, or publishing a newspaper or public journal," 1821, regarded at first as a French word in English, from French journalisme (1781), from journal "daily publication" (see journal); compare journalist.ETD journalism (n.).2

    journalese (n.)

    "language typical of newspaper articles or headlines," 1882, from journal (n.) + -ese.ETD journalese (n.).2

    journalist (n.)

    1690s, "one whose work is to write or edit public journals or newspapers," from French journaliste (see journal (n.) + -ist). Journalier also occasionally has been used. Meaning "one who keeps a journal" is from 1712. Related: Journalistic. The verb journalize (1680s) usually is restricted to "make entry of in a journal or book."ETD journalist (n.).2

    journey (n.)

    c. 1200, "a defined course of traveling; one's path in life," from Old French journée "a day's length; day's work or travel" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *diurnum "day," noun use of neuter of Latin diurnus "of one day" (from dies "day," from PIE root *dyeu- "to shine"). The French fem, suffix -ée, from Latin -ata, was joined to nouns in French to make nouns expressing the quantity contained in the original noun, and thus also relations of times (soirée, matinée, année) or objects produced.ETD journey (n.).2

    Meaning "act of traveling by land or sea" is c. 1300. In Middle English it also meant "a day" (c. 1400); a day's work (mid-14c.); "distance traveled in one day" (mid-13c.), and as recently as Johnson (1755) the primary sense was still "the travel of a day." From the Vulgar Latin word also come Spanish jornada, Italian giornata.ETD journey (n.).3

    journey (v.)

    mid-14c., "travel from one place to another," from Anglo-French journeyer, Old French journoiier "work by day; go, walk, travel," from journée "a day's work or travel" (see journey (n.)). Related: Journeyed; journeying.ETD journey (v.).2

    journeyman (n.)

    "qualified worker at a craft or trade who works for wages for another" (a position between apprentice and master), early 15c., from journey (n.), preserving the etymological sense of the word ("a day"), + man (n.). Deprecatory figurative sense of "hireling, drudge" is from 1540s. Its American English colloquial shortening jour (adj.) is attested from 1835.ETD journeyman (n.).2

    journeyman (adj.)

    late 15c., from journeyman (n.).ETD journeyman (adj.).2

    joust (n.)

    "single combat with lances by riders on horseback," c. 1300, from Old French joste "a jounst, single combat" (12c., Modern French joute), from joster "fight with, engage in single combat" (see joust (v.)). The sport was popular with Anglo-Norman knights; the usual form in Middle English and Old French was plural, in reference to a series of contests and the accompanying revelry.ETD joust (n.).2

    joust (v.)

    c. 1300, "fight with a spear or lance on horseback with another knight; tilt in a tournament," from Old French joster "to joust, tilt, fight in single combat," from Vulgar Latin *iuxtare "to approach, come together, meet," originally "be next to," from Latin iuxta "beside, next to, very near," from suffixed (superlative) form of PIE root *yeug- "to join." Formerly spelled, and according to OED until modern times pronounced, "just." Related: Jousted; jouster; jousting.ETD joust (v.).2


    Roman god of the bright sky, also a poetical name of the planet Jupiter, late 14c., from Latin Iovis, from PIE root *dyeu- "to shine," in derivatives "sky, heaven, god" (compare Zeus). In classical Latin, the compound Iuppiter replaced Old Latin Iovis as the god's name (see Jupiter). Old English had it as Iob.ETD Jove.2

    joviality (n.)

    1620s, from French jovialite (17c.), from jovial (see jovial).ETD joviality (n.).2

    jovial (adj.)

    1580s, "under the influence of the planet Jupiter," from French jovial (16c.), from Italian joviale, literally "pertaining to Jupiter," and directly from Late Latin Iovialis "of Jupiter," from Latin Iovius (used as genitive of Iuppiter) "of or pertaining to Jupiter," Roman god of the sky (see Jove). The meaning "good-humored, merry," is from the astrological belief that those born under the sign of the planet Jupiter are of such dispositions. Related: Jovially.ETD jovial (adj.).2

    Jovian (adj.)

    1520s, "of Jove," from Late Latin Iovianus, from Latin Iovis (see Jove) + -ian. Meaning "of the planet Jupiter" is recorded from 1794. Classical Latin Iovianus was a masculine proper name.ETD Jovian (adj.).2

    Jovicentric (adj.)

    "with (the planet) Jupiter at the center," 1826; see Jove + -centric.ETD Jovicentric (adj.).2

    jowl (n.2)

    "fold of flesh under the jaw," 1590s, alteration of Middle English cholle "fold of flesh hanging from the neck or jaw, double chin" (c. 1300), which is perhaps from or related to Old English ceole "throat" (from PIE root *gwele- (3) "to swallow;" see gullet), but the phonetic development would be abnormal. Also see jowl (n.1).ETD jowl (n.2).2

    jowl (n.1)

    "jaw, jawbone," especially the underjaw, a late 16c. alteration of Middle English chawl (late 14c.), earlier chafle (c. 1200), from late Old English ceafl "jaw; cheek; jawbone; cheekbone," from Proto-Germanic *kefalaz (source of Middle High German kiver, German kiefer, Old Norse kjoptr "jaw," Danish kæft, Flemish kavel, Dutch kevel "gum"), from PIE *gep(h)- "jaw, mouth" (cognates: Old Irish gop, Irish gob "beak, mouth").ETD jowl (n.1).2

    The spelling with j-, attested from c. 1400, is perhaps from influence of the synonymous Old French joue, which also was in Middle English (see jaw (n.)). This word and jowl (n.2) have influenced one another in form and sense. Middle English also had a jolle (late 14c.) meaning "the head," especially that of a fish, which might be from either or both nouns.ETD jowl (n.1).3

    jowly (adj.)

    1860, from jowl (n.2) + -y (2). Related: Jowliness.ETD jowly (adj.).2

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