jailer (n.) Look up jailer at Dictionary.com
also gaoler, late 14c., from Old North French gayolierre, Old French jaioleur, agent noun from jaole (see jail (n.)).
Jain Look up Jain at Dictionary.com
1805, from Hindi Jaina, from Sanskrit jinah "saint," literally "overcomer," from base ji "to conquer," related to jayah "victory," from PIE root *gweie- "to press down, conquer." The sect dates from 6c. B.C.E.
Jainism (n.) Look up Jainism at Dictionary.com
1858, from Jain + -ism. Jainist is attested from 1816.
Jake Look up Jake at Dictionary.com
colloquial or familiar abbreviation of the masc. proper name Jacob (q.v.). As the typical name of a rustic lout, from 1854. (Jakey still is the typical name for "an Amishman" among the non-Amish of Pennsylvania Dutch country). Slang meaning "excellent, fine" is from 1914, American English, of unknown origin.
jakes (n.) Look up jakes at Dictionary.com
"a privy," mid-15c., genitive singular of jack (n.).
jalapeno (n.) Look up jalapeno at Dictionary.com
type of pepper, by 1957, literally "of Jalapa," from Mexican Spanish Jalapa, place in Mexico, from Aztec Xalapan, literally "sand by the water," from xalli "sand" + atl "water" + -pan "place."
jalopy (n.) Look up jalopy at Dictionary.com
"battered old automobile," 1924 (early variants include jaloupy, jaloppi, gillopy), of unknown origin; perhaps from Jalapa, Mexico, where many U.S. used cars supposedly were sent (see jalapeno).
jalousie (n.) Look up jalousie at Dictionary.com
1766, French, literally "jealousy" (see jealousy), from notion of looking through blinds without being seen.
jam (v.) Look up jam at Dictionary.com
"to press tightly," also "to become wedged," 1706, of unknown origin, perhaps a variant of champ (v.). Of a malfunction in the moving parts of machinery, by 1851. Sense of "cause interference in radio signals" is from 1914. Related: Jammed; jamming. The adverb is recorded from 1825, from the verb.
jam (n.1) Look up jam at Dictionary.com
"fruit preserve," 1730s, probably a special use of jam (v.) with a sense of "crush fruit into a preserve."
jam (n.2) Look up jam at Dictionary.com
"a tight pressing between two surfaces," 1806, from jam (v.). Jazz meaning "short, free improvised passage performed by the whole band" dates from 1929, and yielded jam session (1933); but this is perhaps from jam (n.1) in sense of "something sweet, something excellent." Sense of "machine blockage" is from 1890, which probably led to the colloquial meaning "predicament, tight spot," first recorded 1914.
Jamaica Look up Jamaica at Dictionary.com
West Indian island, from Taino (Arawakan) xaymaca, said to mean "rich in springs." Columbus when he found it in 1494 named it Santiago, but this did not stick. Related: Jamaican. The Jamaica in New York probably is a Delaware (Algonquian) word meaning "beaver pond" altered by influence of the island name.
jamb (n.) Look up jamb at Dictionary.com
side-piece of a door, window, etc., early 14c., from Old French jambe "pier, side post of a door," originally "a leg, shank" (12c.), from Late Latin gamba "leg, (horse's) hock" (see gambol).
jambalaya (n.) Look up jambalaya at Dictionary.com
1872, from Louisiana French, from Provençal jambalaia "stew of rice and fowl."
jamboree (n.) Look up jamboree at Dictionary.com
1866, represented as typical of American English, perhaps from jam (n.) on pattern of shivaree [Barnhart]. For the second element, Weekley suggests French bourree, a kind of rustic dance. Klein thinks the whole thing is of Hindu origin (but he credits its introduction to English, mistakenly, to Kipling). Boy Scouts use is from 1920. Noted earlier as a term in cribbage:
Jamboree signifies the combination of the five highest cards, as, for example, the two Bowers [jacks], Ace, King, and Queen of trumps in one hand, which entitles the holder to count sixteen points. The holder of such a hand, simply announces the fact, as no play is necessary; but should he play the hand as a Jambone, he can count only eight points, whereas he could count sixteen if he played it, or announced it as a Jamboree. ["The American Hoyle," New York, 1864]
James Look up James at Dictionary.com
masc. proper name, name of two of Christ's disciples, late 12c. Middle English vernacular form of Late Latin Jacomus (source of Old French James, Spanish Jaime, Italian Giacomo), altered from Latin Jacobus (see Jacob).

The Welsh form was Iago, the Cornish Jago. Fictional British spy James Bond dates from 1953, created by British author Ian Fleming (1908-1964), who plausibly is said to have taken the name from that of U.S. ornithologist James Bond (1900-1989), an expert on Caribbean birds.
Jamesian (adj.) Look up Jamesian at Dictionary.com
"of or in the mode of James," 1875 in reference to William James (1842-1910) U.S. philosopher and exponent of pragmatism; 1905 in reference to his brother Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. expatriate novelist.
jams (n.) Look up jams at Dictionary.com
1966, abstracted from pajamas (q.v.).
Jane Look up Jane at Dictionary.com
fem. proper name, from French Jeanne, Old French Jehane, from Medieval Latin Johanna (see John). As a generic name for "girl, girlfriend" it is attested from 1906 in U.S. slang. Never a top-10 list name for girls born in the U.S., it ranked in the top 50 from 1931 to 1956. It may owe its "everywoman" reputation rather to its association with John.
Janet Look up Janet at Dictionary.com
fem. proper name, a diminutive of Jane. In Middle English, Ionete-of-the-steues was a common name for a prostitute (late 14c.).
jangle (n.) Look up jangle at Dictionary.com
late 13c., "gossip, slanderous conversation, dispute," from Old French jangle, from jangler (see jangle (v.)). Meaning "discordant sound" is from 1795.
jangle (v.) Look up jangle at Dictionary.com
c.1300, jangeln, "to talk excessively, chatter, talk idly," from Old French jangler "to chatter, gossip, bawl, argue noisily" (12c.), perhaps from Frankish *jangelon "to jeer" or some other Germanic source (compare Middle Dutch jangelen "to whine"). Meaning "make harsh noise" is first recorded late 15c. Related: Jangled; jangling.
janitor (n.) Look up janitor at Dictionary.com
1580s, "an usher in a school," later "doorkeeper" (1620s), from Latin ianitor "doorkeeper, porter," from ianua "door, entrance, gate," from ianus "arched passageway, arcade" (see Janus) + agent suffix -tor. Meaning "caretaker of a building" first recorded 1708.
janitorial (adj.) Look up janitorial at Dictionary.com
1869, from janitor + -ial.
janizary (n.) Look up janizary at Dictionary.com
"elite Turkish infantry," 1520s, from French janissaire (15c.), from Italian giannizzero, from Turkish yenicheri, literally "new troops," from yeni "new" + cheri "soldiery." Formed 1362 from slaves and prisoners of war, ranks filled over the years from tributary children of Christians, abolished 1826.
Jankin Look up Jankin at Dictionary.com
masc. proper name, from Jan, variant of John, + diminutive suffix -kin. In Middle English, applied contemptuously to priests.
Jansenism (n.) Look up Jansenism at Dictionary.com
1650s, in reference to doctrine of Cornelius Jansen (1585-1638), Catholic bishop of Ypres, who maintained the perverseness and inability for good of the natural human will. Related: Jansenist.
January (n.) Look up January at Dictionary.com
late 13c., Ieneuer, from Old North French Genever, Old French Jenvier (Modern French Janvier), attested from early 12c. in Anglo-French, from Latin Ianuarius (mensis) "(the month) of Janus," to whom the month was sacred as the beginning of the year (see Janus; cognates: Italian Gennajo, Provençal Genovier, Portuguese Janeiro). The form was gradually Latinized by c.1400. Replaced Old English geola se æfterra "Later Yule." In Chaucer, a type-name for an old man.
Janus Look up Janus at Dictionary.com
ancient Italic deity, guardian god of portals, doors, and gates; patron of beginnings and endings, c.1500, from Latin Ianus, literally "gate, arched passageway," perhaps from PIE root *ei- (1) "to go" (cognates: Sanskrit yanah "path," Old Church Slavonic jado "to travel"). He is shown as having two faces, one in front the other in back. His temple in Rome was closed only in times of peace.
JAP (n.) Look up JAP at Dictionary.com
acronym for Jewish-American Princess, attested from 1971.
Jap Look up Jap at Dictionary.com
Colloquial abbreviation of Japanese, by 1880 as a noun, 1892 as an adjective, not originally pejorative but became so during World War II. It was protested by Japanese before the war, but did not begin to be taboo in the U.S. before 1960s. For some years after World War II in American English the word also functioned as a verb, "to execute a sneak attack upon," a reference to Pearl Harbor.
Japan Look up Japan at Dictionary.com
1570s, via Portuguese Japao, Dutch Japan, acquired in Malacca from Malay Japang, from Chinese jih pun "sunrise" (equivalent of Japanese Nippon), from jih "sun" + pun "origin." Earliest form in Europe was Marco Polo's Chipangu. Cultural contact led to japaning "coat with lacquer or varnish" (1680s), japonaiserie (1896, from French), etc.
Japanese Look up Japanese at Dictionary.com
1580s, Iapones; see Japan + -ese. Japanese beetle attested from 1919, accidentally introduced in U.S. 1916 in larval stage in a shipment of Japanese iris.
jape (v.) Look up jape at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "to trick, beguile, jilt," perhaps from Old French japer "to howl, bawl, scream," of echoic origin, or from Old French gaber "to mock, deride." Phonetics suits the former, but sense the latter explanation. Took on a slang sense mid-15c. of "have sex with," and disappeared from polite usage. Revived in harmless Middle English sense of "say or do something in jest" by Scott, etc. Related: Japed; japing.
jape (n.) Look up jape at Dictionary.com
early 14c., "trick, deceit," later "a joke, a jest" (late 14c.); see jape (v.). By mid-14c. it meant "frivolous pastime," by 1400, "bawdiness."
Japheth Look up Japheth at Dictionary.com
youngest of the three sons of Noah, from Latin Japheth, from Greek Iapheth, from Hebrew Yepheth, literally "enlargement," from causative form of the stem p-t-h "to be wide, spacious."
Japhetic Look up Japhetic at Dictionary.com
old name for "Indo-European" (see Aryan), 1828, from Biblical Japheth.
Japlish (n.) Look up Japlish at Dictionary.com
"Japanese with many English words," 1960, from Japanese + English.
japonica (n.) Look up japonica at Dictionary.com
"camelia," 1819, Modern Latin, literally "Japanese," from Japonica "Japan," from Japon, variant of Japan.
jar (v.) Look up jar at Dictionary.com
1520s, "to make a harsh, grating sound," usually said to be echoic or imitative, but no one explains how, or of what. Figurative sense of "have an unpleasant effect on" is from 1530s; that of "cause to vibrate or shake" is from 1560s. Related: Jarred; jarring.
jar (n.) Look up jar at Dictionary.com
"cylindrical vessel," early 15c., possibly from Middle French jarre "liquid measure" (smaller than a barrel), 12c., from Provençal jarra, from Arabic jarrah "earthen water vessel" (whence also Spanish jarra, Italian giarra) [Klein].
jardiniere (n.) Look up jardiniere at Dictionary.com
ornamental flower stand, 1841, from French jardinière "flower pot; female gardener, gardener's wife," noun use of fem. of adjective jardinier "of the garden," from jardin (see garden (n.)).
jargon (n.) Look up jargon at Dictionary.com
mid-14c., "unintelligible talk, gibberish; chattering, jabbering," from Old French jargon "a chattering" (of birds), also "language, speech," especially "idle talk; thieves' Latin." Ultimately of echoic origin (compare Latin garrire "to chatter," English gargle). Often applied to something the speaker does not understand, hence meaning "mode of speech full of unfamiliar terms" (1650s). Middle English also had it as a verb, jargounen "to chatter" (late 14c.), from French.
jarhead (n.) Look up jarhead at Dictionary.com
"U.S. Marine," by 1985 (but in a biographical book with a World War II setting), from jar + head. Also used as a general term of insult (by 1979) and by 1922 as a Georgia dialectal word for "mule."
jarl (n.) Look up jarl at Dictionary.com
see earl.
jasmine (n.) Look up jasmine at Dictionary.com
1570s, from French jasmin (Middle French jessemin), from Arabic yas(a)min, from Persian yasmin (compare Greek iasme, iasmelaion, name of a Persian perfume). The plant first was grown in England 16c.
Jason Look up Jason at Dictionary.com
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.
jasper (n.) Look up jasper at Dictionary.com
precious stone, c.1300, from Anglo-French jaspre, Old French jaspre, jaspe, from Latin iaspidem (nominative iaspis), from Greek iaspis "jasper," via an Oriental language (compare Hebrew yashpeh, Akkadian yashupu).
Jasper Look up Jasper at Dictionary.com
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."
jaundice (n.) Look up jaundice at Dictionary.com
c.1300, jaunis, from Old French jaunice, earlier jalnice, "yellowness" (12c.), from jaune "yellow," from Latin galbinus "greenish yellow," probably from PIE *ghel- "yellow, green" (see Chloe).

With intrusive -d- (compare gender, astound, thunder). Figurative meaning "feeling in which views are colored or distorted" first recorded 1620s, from yellow's association with bitterness and envy (see yellow). As a verb, from 1791, but usually in figurative use. Related: Jaundiced.