A-Z Database

A-Z Database

All A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Jarhead

US military slang for a marine, dates from WWII and derives from the dress uniform that US marines wear.The high collar makes it look as if the marine...

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Jaws of defeat

see Snatch victory from the jaws of defeat


Jaywalking

A frequently encountered but erroneous explanation for this expression is that people crossing busy streets never do so in a straight line. Because of...

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Jazz

The origin of this word is, of course, American and is first attested from around 1912. Contrary to popular belief, it did not originate from African...

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Jeans

see Denim


Jeepers

This American exclamation of surprise from c.1929 is a more acceptable, less offensive form of Jesus! It is sometimes used in conjunction with creeper...

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Jeez

This American exclamation of surprise from c.1923 is considered a more acceptable and possibly less offensive version of the original exclamation of J...

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Jekyll and Hyde personality

A split personality, one good the other evil, derives from the 1886 novel by Robert Louis Stevenson The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, in whic...

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Jerk

American expression for a dislikeable, dull or stupid person dates from the early 20th century as an abbreviation of jerkwater which was originally a...

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Jerk off

One who jerks off is not necessarily a jerk. Jerk off is American slang from the late 19th century for male masturbation.


Jerrycan/jerrican/Jerry can

Originally a 20 litre can for gasoline used by the German army from 1937. According to the OED, Jerry is a jocular designation for a German soldier fi...

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Jersey

The everyday garment is named after Jersey worsted, a type of woollen fabric that originally came from Jersey, the Channel Island. Jersey worsted date...

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Jesus wept!

This quotation from the New Testament is now commonly used as an oath or exclamation of surprise or disappointment. The source is John 11:35, “Jesus w...

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Jet black

Meaning a deep, black colour dates from the mid-15th century and derives from the geological material known as jet, which is part of the lignite group...

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Jettison

This is a slightly more modern form of jetsam but not by much. Both words have been used since the 15th century. Jettison now means to throw anything...

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