Wednesday’s Word: jack

Is there any word in the English language that has more meanings than jack? Jack is a name, jack is a noun, jack is a verb. Jack is a device, a toy, a man, an animal, a cheese and an STD.

Here are a few of the meanings of this versatile, yet sometimes crude, word:

Jack the Tool

jack

What many most commonly know as a jack is the latch and crank tool usually found in the trunk of a car to raise the car so you can change the tire. But there’s more than that. There are any number of devices called jacks which are employed to lift heavy objects. They don’t have to be mechanical like the car jack, they can be pneumatic or hydraulic. There is a nautical jack that has something to do with keeping the masthead in position. You can use a jack to turn a spit. Or you can use a jack to prop up a portion of stage scenery. A jack is the female end of a plug, either in an electrical outlet or in the connection of audio, video or telephonic cables.

Jack the Plaything

There is a common children’s game called jacks, that has something to do with scattering the jacks in a floor or flat surface then picking them up according to a set of rules I don’t really know The key object in the game is the jack itself, a six-pointed lightweight metal object. Jack is the guy who pops out of the music box.

jack

For card players, there is in each of the four suits a jack, portrayed as either a knave or a soldier, and ranking below the king and queen.

Jack plays a role in more active sports as well. A baseball player who hits a home run can be said to have jacked the ball out of the park. You could simply credit the slugger with a jack. And there is a small white ball called a jack in lawn bowling.

Jack the LIving Thing

When it comes to homesapiens, the term jack is used as a synonym for laborer. You can get more specific by using jack as a suffix, as in lumberjack or steeplejack. Sailors can also be tagged as jacks.

jackass
(Image by James DeMers)

In the animal world a male ass is a jackass, although that term can also be used for the human variety of ass.  There are some fish called jacks and it can also mean a young male salmon. In the aviary world there is a whiskey jack, reputed to be the world’s smartest bird, and the jackdaw

Jack the Jargon

Jack is commonly used as slang for money. If you don’t know jack about something, you’re knowledge is severely limited. You can jack up, as in injecting a controlled substance, or you can jack off, as in masturbating. If you got the jack in Australia, it’s not money, it’s a venereal disease.

Jack the Act

Sometimes the verb jack is used for stealing. But usually the act of jacking is the act of lifting, whether literally or figuratively. If you use any of the tools called jacks you are hoisting up something. If you jack the prices on something you’re trying to sell, you’re raising them, likely a lot. If you’re a sports coach, you might want to jack up your team, making them more emotional or enthusiastic. Or you might want to improve their conditioning by having them do jumping jacks. We’ve already covered the issue of a baseball player jacking the ball out of the park, in basketball a player might jack up a shot. 

All this and we haven’t even mentioned Jack the Cheese (Monterrey Jack), Jack the Adult Beverage (Applejack), Jack the Flag (Union Jack), Jack the Pumpkin (o’-lantern) or Jack the Highway Accident (jackknife). And maybe the strangest definition of all is this entry from the Urban Dictionary: “to pull a jack is to shit on the top of a car then sit in it.” Somebody does that!!!

The word jack has far too many definitions for me to provide sentences for each. So I’ve condensed that exercise by offering these sentences using multiple meanings of jack.

  • Because someone jacked Jack’s jack, he was unable to jack up the car to change his tire.
  • Because Jack was a jack, when he caught the jack he didn’t have enough jack to pay for the antibiotics.
  • The jackass ate all the Monterrey Jack that the lumberjack had jacked from his buddy’s lunchbox.
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8 Responses to Wednesday’s Word: jack

  1. So funny! I haven’t heard of a lot of these. Did you mention nursery Rhymes? Or Hijack?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. sarsm says:

    I knew most of them, but not the venereal disease. But I’m quite happy for my knowledge to cease there!
    Awesome post, entertaining and enlightening!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Don’t forget about AC/DC’s “The Jack” song!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a nephew named Jack. He’ll be delighted to know that his name has lots of different meanings and uses … except for the STD part that is.

    Liked by 1 person

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