jessamine (n.) Look up jessamine at
Middle English, from Middle French jassemin, variant of jasmine. Also jessamy (1630s).
Jesse Look up Jesse at
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.
Jessica Look up Jessica at
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).
jest (n.) Look up jest at
early 13c., geste, "narrative of exploits," from Old French geste "action, exploit," from Latin gesta "deeds," neuter plural of gestus, past participle of gerere "to carry, behave, act, perform" (see gest, which preserves the original sense). Sense descended through "idle tale" (late 15c.) to "mocking speech, raillery" (1540s) to "joke" (1550s). Also "a laughing-stock" (1590s). Jest-book is from 1690s.
jest (v.) Look up jest at
1520s, "to speak in a trifling manner;" 1550s, "to joke, say or do something meant to amuse," from Middle English gesten "recite a tale" (late 14c.), from geste "action, exploit" (see jest (n.)). Related: Jested; jesting.
jester (n.) Look up jester at
mid-14c., gestour, jestour "a minstrel, professional reciter of romances," agent noun from gesten "recite a tale" (a jester's original function), from geste "action, exploit" (see jest (n.)). Sense of "buffoon in a prince's court" is from c. 1500. Sterne (1759) uses jestee, but it is rare.
Jesuit (n.) Look up Jesuit at
1540s, from Modern Latin Jesuita, member of the Societas Jesu ("Society of Jesus"), founded 1533 by Ignatius Loyola to combat Protestantism. See Jesus. Their enemies (in both Catholic and Protestant lands) accused them of belief that ends justify means, hence the sense "a crafty or dissembling person" (1630s), and jesuitical "deceitful, designing, insinuating" (1610s).
Jesus Look up Jesus at
personal name of the Christian Savior, late 12c.; it is the Greek form of Joshua, used variously in translations of the Bible. From Late Latin Iesus (properly pronounced as three syllables), from Greek Iesous, which is an attempt to render into Greek the Aramaic (Semitic) proper name Jeshua (Hebrew Yeshua, Yoshua) "Jah is salvation." This was a common Jewish personal name during the Hellenizing period; it is the later form of Hebrew Yehoshua (see Joshua).

Old English used hælend "savior." The common Middle English form was Jesu/Iesu, from the Old French objective case form, from Latin oblique form Iesu (genitive, dative, ablative, vocative), surviving in some invocations. As an oath, attested from late 14c. For Jesus H. Christ (1924), see I.H.S. First record of Jesus freak is from 1970.
jet (v.1) Look up jet at
1690s, "to sprout or spurt forth, shoot out," from French jeter "to throw, thrust," from Late Latin iectare (abstracted from deiectare, proiectare, etc.), in place of Latin iactare "to toss about," frequentative of iacere "to throw, cast," from PIE root *ye- "to throw, impel" (cognates: Greek iemi, ienai "to send, throw;" Hittite ijami "I make").

Middle English had a verb getten, jetten meaning "to prance, strut, swagger, be showy" (c. 1400), from getter, jetter, the Old French form of the verb. Related: Jetted; jetting.
jet (n.2) Look up jet at
also jetstone, "deep black lignite," mid-14c., from Anglo-French geet, Old French jaiet "jet, lignite" (12c., Modern French jais), from Latin gagates, from Greek gagates lithos "stone of Gages," town and river in Lycia in Asia Minor. Formerly supposed to be magnetic. From mid-15c. as "a deep, rich, glossy black color" (the color of jet) and as an adjective.
jet (n.1) Look up jet at
1690s, "stream of water," from French jet "a throw, a cast; a gush, spurt (of water); a shoot (of a plant)," from jeter "to throw, thrust" (see jet (v.1)). Middle English had jet/get "a device, mode, manner, fashion, style" (early 14c.).

Sense of "spout or nozzle for emitting water, gas, fuel, etc." is from 1825. Hence jet propulsion (1855, originally in reference to water) and the noun meaning "airplane driven by jet propulsion" (1944, from jet engine, 1943). The first one in service was the German Messerschmitt Me 262. Jet set first attested 1951, shortly before jet commuter plane flights began. Jet age is attested from 1952. The atmospheric jet stream is from 1947.
jet (v.2) Look up jet at
"travel by jet," 1946, from jet (n.1). Related: Jetted; jetting.
jet lag (n.) Look up jet lag at
also jetlag, 1966, from jet (n.2) + lag (n.). Also known in early days as time zone syndrome.
jete (n.) Look up jete at
ballet step, 1830, from French (pas) jeté, from past participle of jeter "to throw" (see jet (v.1)).
Jethro Look up Jethro at
masc. proper name, biblical father-in-law of Moses, from Hebrew Yithro, collateral form of Yether, literally "abundance," from base y-t-r "to be left over, to remain."
jetsam (n.) Look up jetsam at
1560s, jottsome "act of throwing goods overboard to lighten a ship," alteration and contraction of Middle English jetteson, from Anglo-French getteson, Old French getaison "a throwing" (see jettison). Intermediate forms were jetson, jetsome; the form perhaps was deformed by influence of flotsam. From 1590s as "goods thrown overboard;" figurative use by 1861. For distinction of meaning, see flotsam.
jettison (v.) Look up jettison at
1848, "to throw overboard," especially to save a ship in danger, from jettison (n.) "act of throwing overboard" to lighten a ship. This noun was an 18c. Marine Insurance writers' restoration of the earlier form and original sense of the 15c. word that had become jetsam, probably because jetsam had taken on a sense of "things cast overboard" and an unambiguous word was needed for "act of casting things overboard."

Middle English jetteson (n.) "act of throwing overboard" is from Anglo-French getteson, Old French getaison "act of throwing (goods overboard)," especially to lighten a ship in distress, from Late Latin iactionem (nominative iactatio) "a throwing, act of throwing," noun of action from past participle stem of iactare "to throw, toss about" (see jet (v.1)). Related: Jettisoned.
jetton (n.) Look up jetton at
disc of cheap metal stamped like a coin and used as counters or checks in card games, accounting, etc., 1762, from French jeton, from Old French jeter "to calculate," literally "to throw" (see jet (v.1)). They were common 16c.-17c. French jeton also was used mid-20c. of special coins used in pay phones.
jetty (n.) Look up jetty at
early 15c., from Old French jetee, getee "a jetty, a pier; a projecting part of a building," also "a throw," noun use of fem. past participle of jeter "to throw" (see jet (v.1)). Notion is of a structure "thrown out" past what surrounds it.
jeu d'esprit (n.) Look up jeu d'esprit at
"a witticism," 1712, from French, from jeu "play, game," from Latin jocum "jest, joke, play, sport" (see joke (n.)).
jeune fille (n.) Look up jeune fille at
1802, French, literally "young girl," from jeune "young," from Latin juvenis (see young (adj.)).
jeunesse doree (n.) Look up jeunesse doree at
1811, French jeunesse dorée "gilded youth, rich and fashionable young men," from jeunesse "youth," from jeune "young" (12c.), from Latin iuvenis "young man" (see young (adj.)) + fem. of doré "gilded."
Jew (n.) Look up Jew at
late 12c., Giw, Jeu, "a Jew (ancient or modern), one of the Jewish race or religion," from Anglo-French iuw, Old French giu (Modern French Juif), from Latin Iudaeum (nominative Iudaeus), from Greek Ioudaios, from Aramaic (Semitic) jehudhai (Hebrew y'hudi) "a Jew," from Y'hudah "Judah," literally "celebrated," name of Jacob's fourth son and of the tribe descended from him.

Spelling with J- predominated from 16c. Replaced Old English Iudeas "the Jews," which is from Latin. As an offensive and opprobrious term, "person who seeks gain by sordid means," c. 1600. Jews' harp "simple mouth harp" is from 1580s, earlier Jews' trump (1540s); the connection with Jewishness is obscure, unless it is somehow biblical.

In uneducated times, inexplicable ancient artifacts were credited to Jews, based on the biblical chronology of history: such as Jews' money (1570s) "Roman coins found in England." In Greece, after Christianity had erased the memory of classical glory, ruins of pagan temples were called "Jews' castles," and in Cornwall, Jews' houses was the name for the remains of ancient tin-smelting works.
jew (v.) Look up jew at
"to cheat, to drive a hard bargain," 1824, from Jew (n.) (compare gyp, welsh, etc.). "Though now commonly employed without direct reference to the Jews as a race, it is regarded by them as offensive and opprobrious" [Century Dictionary, 1902]. The campaign to eliminate it in early 20c. was so successful that people also began to avoid the noun and adjective, using Hebrew instead.
Now I'll say 'a Jew' and just the word Jew sounds like a dirty word and people don't know whether to laugh or not. [Lenny Bruce, "How to Talk Dirty and Influence People," 1965]
Jew-baiting (n.) Look up Jew-baiting at
1853, in reference to German Judenhetze; see Jew (n.) + baiting. Related: Jew-baiter.
jewel (n.) Look up jewel at
late 13c., "article of value used for adornment," from Anglo-French juel, Old French jouel "ornament; present; gem, jewel" (12c.), which is perhaps [Watkins] from Medieval Latin jocale, from Latin jocus "pastime, sport," in Vulgar Latin "that which causes joy" (see joke (n.)). Another theory traces it to Latin gaudium, also with a notion of "rejoice" (see joy).

Restricted sense of "precious stone, gem" developed in English from early 14c. Figurative meaning "beloved person, admired woman" is late 14c. Colloquial family jewels "testicles" is from 1920s, but jewel as "testicle" dates to late 15c. Jewel-case is from 1753.
jeweler (n.) Look up jeweler at
also jeweller, late 14c. (mid-14c. as a surname, Alice la Jueler), from Anglo-French jueler, juelleor, Old French juelier, juelior (Modern French joaillier), from joel "a jewel" (see jewel).
jewelled (adj.) Look up jewelled at
also jeweled, c. 1600, from jewel (n.).
jewellery (n.) Look up jewellery at
see jewelry.
jewelry (n.) Look up jewelry at
late 14c., juelrye "precious ornaments, jewel work," from Old French juelerye, from jouel (see jewel). In modern use it probably is a new formation and can be analyzed as jewel + -ery or jeweler + -y (1). Also jewellery. "The longer is the commercial & popular form, the shorter the rhetorical & poetic" [Fowler].
Jewess (n.) Look up Jewess at
"Jewish woman," late 14c. (late 13c. as a surname), from Old French juise, fem. of jüif (see Jew).
jewfish (n.) Look up jewfish at
1670s, from Jew (n.) + fish (n.). A guess at the name from 1690s suggests it is so called for being a "clean" fish according to Levitical laws.
Jewish (adj.) Look up Jewish at
1540s, from Jew + -ish. Old English had Iudeisc; early Middle English used Judewish, Judeish (late 12c.). Similar formation in Dutch joodsch, Old High German judeisk, German jüdisch, Danish jödisk. Figurative use in reference to extortionate money-lending attested by c. 1600.
Jewishness (n.) Look up Jewishness at
1540s, "Judaism" (as opposed to Christianity), from Jewish + -ness. From 1822 as "Jewish quality or character."
Jewry (n.) Look up Jewry at
c. 1200, Jeuerie "ghetto, the Jewish district in a town," from Anglo-French Juerie, Old French Juierie (13c.; Modern French Juiverie); see Jew + -ery. Early 14c. as "Jews collectively;" mid-14c. as "the land of the Jews, Judea."
jezebel (n.) Look up jezebel at
"impudent woman," 1550s, after Jezebel, the wicked Tyrean princess who married Ahab, king of Israel (I Kings xxi), from Hebrew Izebhel, "a name of uncertain origin and meaning" [Klein].
jib (n.) Look up jib at
"large, triangular foresail of a ship," 1660s, gibb, of uncertain origin. Perhaps related to gibbet on the notion of a sail "hanging" from a masthead [Barnhart, OED]; and compare gib "projecting arm of a crane." Or perhaps from the nautical verb jib, jibe "shift a sail or boom to the other side" (1690s), from Dutch gijben, gijpen "turn suddenly" (of sails), which is apparently related to gijk "boom or spar of a sailing ship."

An observant sailor watching a strange vessel approach at sea judges her character by the condition of the jibs; hence cut of (one's) jib "personal appearance" (1821). Related: Jib-boom (1748). The jib in jib-door "door flush with a wall" (1792) is of uncertain origin and probably is not the same word.
jibber-jabber (v.) Look up jibber-jabber at
1728, "to talk gibberish," reduplication of jabber (q.v.). Related: Jibber-jabbering. As a noun from 1813, also gibber-gabber. Compare gibble-gabble "idle talk, chatter" (c. 1600). Jibber (v.) is attested from 1824.
jibe (v.) Look up jibe at
"agree, fit," 1813, gibe, of unknown origin, originally U.S. colloquial, perhaps a figurative extension of earlier jib, gybe (v.) "shift a sail or boom" (see jib). OED, however, suggests a phonetic variant of chime, as if meaning "to chime in with, to be in harmony." Related: Jibed; jibes; jibing.
jibe (n.) Look up jibe at
"a taunt," alternative spelling of gibe.
jiff (n.) Look up jiff at
1791, short for jiffy.
jiffy (n.) Look up jiffy at
1785, "a moment, an instant, short space of time," colloquial, origin unknown; said to have been thieves' slang for "lightning."
jig (n.) Look up jig at
"lively, irregular dance," 1560s, of uncertain origin. Perhaps from Middle English gigge "fiddle" (mid-15c.), from Old French gigue "fiddle," also the name of a kind of dance. This is the source of Modern French gigue, Spanish giga, Italian giga, which preserve the "dance" sense, and German Geige, which preserves the "violin" sense. As a verb, "to sing or play a jig," from 1580s.

From 1580s as the music for such a dance. The extended sense "piece of sport, trick" (1590s), survives mainly in the phrase the jig is up (first attested 1777 as the jig is over). As a generic word for handy devices or contrivances from 1875, earlier jigger (1726). Other senses seem to be influenced by jog, and the syllable forms the basis of colloquial words such as jiggalorum "a trifle" (1610s), jigamoree "something unknown" (1844), also jiggobob (1620s), jiggumbob (1610s); and compare jigger (n.). "As with other familiar words of homely aspect, the senses are more or less involved and inconstant" [Century Dictionary].
jigaboo (n.) Look up jigaboo at
insulting name for a black person, 1909, perhaps from jig (q.v.), which had been applied insultingly to persons (regardless of race) since late 18c., and ending from bugaboo. Shortened form jig is attested from 1924.
jigger (n.1) Look up jigger at
"1.5-ounce shot glass," 1836, American English, in early use also of the drink itself, probably from jigger "illicit distillery" (1824), a word of unknown origin. Or else perhaps from jigger (n.2) "tiny mite or flea." As a name for various appliances the word is attested by 1726, from jig.
jigger (n.2) Look up jigger at
"1.5-ounce shot glass," 1836, American English, in early use also of the drink itself, from jigger "illicit distillery" (1824), of unknown origin; or else perhaps from jigger, a 1756 alteration of chigger "tiny mite or flea." As a name for various appliances, the word is attested by 1825, from jig.
jiggle (v.) Look up jiggle at
1836, from jig (v.) "move up and down or to and fro" (c. 1600, from jig (v.) but perhaps influenced by jog) + -le, which here could be either diminutive or frequentative. Related: Jiggled; jiggling. As a noun, from 1840.
jigsaw (n.) Look up jigsaw at
also jig-saw, vertical reciprocating saw, 1855, American English, from jig with its notion of "rapid up-and-down motion" + saw (n.1). It was largely displaced by the later band-saws. Jigsaw puzzle first recorded 1906; originally one with pieces cut by a jigsaw.
jihad (n.) Look up jihad at
also jehad, 1852, from Arabic, usually translated as "holy war," literally "struggle, contest, effort," from infinitive of jahada "he waged war, he applied himself to." Originally and for long in English purely in reference to the duty of religious war against unbelievers. Used in English since c. 1880 for any sort of doctrinal crusade. Related: Jihadi.
Jill Look up Jill at
fem. proper name, Middle English Jille, Jylle, Gille, etc., familiar shortening of Jillian, Gillian, which represent the common Middle English pronunciation of Juliana (see Gillian). A very popular name for girls in medieval England, hence its use as a familiar, almost generic, name for a girl (early 15c.; paired with Jack since mid-15c.).