Etymology
Advertisement
jay (n.)

the common European jay (Garrulus glandarinus), early 14c. (late 12c. as a surname), from Old North French gai, Old French jai "magpie, jay" (12c., Modern French geai), from Late Latin gaius "a jay," probably echoic of the bird's harsh warning cry and supposedly influenced by Latin Gaius, a common Roman proper name.

For other bird names from proper names, compare martin and parrot. Applied to the North American blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata) from 1709; it is unrelated but has similar vivid markings, is noisy and restless, and also has a harsh call. Applied to humans in sense of "impertinent chatterer, loud, flashy dresser" from 1520s. Jolly as a jay was a Middle English expression for "very happy, joyful."

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
jay (adj.)

"fourth-rate, worthless" (as in a jay town), 1888, American English, earlier as a noun, "hick, rube, dupe" (1884); apparently from some disparaging sense of jay (n.). Perhaps via a decaying or ironical use of jay in the old slang sense "flashy dresser." Century Dictionary (1890s) notes it as actors' slang for "an amateur or poor actor" and as an adjective a general term of contempt for audiences.

"A jay hasn't got any more principle than a Congressman. A jay will lie, a jay will steal, a jay will deceive, a jay will betray; and, four times out of five, a jay will go back on his solemnest promise. The sacredness of an obligation is a thing which you can't cram into no blue-jay's head." ["Mark Twain," "A Tramp Abroad"]

They were said to be disliked by hunters because their cries aroused deer. Barrère and Leland's "Dictionary of Slang, Jargon & Cant" [1889] describes the noun as an American term of contempt for a person, "a sham 'swell;' a simpleton," and suspect it might be from jayhawker.

Related entries & more 
jay-bird (n.)

also jaybird, 1660s, from jay (n.) "the common jay" + bird (n.). It appears after jay (n.) began to be used of persons, too.

Related entries & more 
jaywalking (n.)

by 1912, American English (said in original citation to be a Kansas City term), from jay, perhaps with notion of boldness and impudence. Related: Jaywalk; jaywalker.

Related entries & more 
jar (v.)

1520s, "to make a brief, harsh, grating sound," often in reference to bird screeches; the word often is said to be echoic or imitative; compare jargon (n.), jay (n.), garrulous. Figurative sense of "have an unpleasant effect on" is from 1530s; that of "cause to vibrate or shake" is from 1560s. Related: Jarred; jarring. As a noun in this sense from 1540s.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
cajole (v.)

"deceive or delude by flattery," 1640s, from French cajoler "to cajole, wheedle, coax," a word of uncertain origin; perhaps a blend of cageoler "to chatter like a jay" (16c., from gajole, southern diminutive of geai "jay;" see jay (n.)), and Old French gaioler "to cage, entice into a cage" (see jail (n.)). Related: Cajoled; cajoling.

Related entries & more 
jayhawker (n.)

"freebooter, guerrilla," American English, 1858, originally "irregular or marauder during the 'Bleeding Kansas' troubles" (especially one who came from the North). It seems to have come into widespread use only during the Civil War. There was said to have been a bird of this name, but evidence for it is wanting. Perhaps a disparaging use from jay (n.). Hence back-formed verb jayhawk "harass" (1866).

Bushwhackers are men, united together, but not soldiers, who live in the bush; and whose avowed object is to kill every Union soldier they can, and cripple, so far as they can, the resources of the Federal military power. The jayhawkers are thieves. They plunder indiscriminately from all parties. In the same band are both rebel and Union men. ... Guerilla bands are companies enlisted and sworn into the rebel service; but not belonging to the armies. [Henry M. Painter, "Brief Narrative of Incidents in the War in Missouri," Boston, 1863.]
Related entries & more 
gazette (n.)

"newspaper," c. 1600, from French gazette (16c.), from Italian gazzetta, Venetian dialectal gazeta "newspaper," also the name of a small copper coin, literally "little magpie," from gazza; applied to the monthly newspaper (gazeta de la novità) published in Venice by the government, either from its price or its association with the bird (typical of false chatter), or both. First used in English 1665 for the paper issued at Oxford, whither the court had fled from the plague.

The coin may have been so called for its marking; Gamillscheg writes the word is from French gai (see jay). The general story of the origin of the word is broadly accepted, but there are many variations in the details:

We are indebted to the Italians for the idea of newspapers. The title of their gazettas was, perhaps, derived from gazzera, a magpie or chatterer; or, more probably, from a farthing coin, peculiar to the city of Venice, called gazetta, which was the common price of the newspapers. Another etymologist is for deriving it from the Latin gaza, which would colloquially lengthen into gazetta, and signify a little treasury of news. The Spanish derive it from the Latin gaza, and likewise their gazatero, and our gazetteer, for a writer of the gazette and, what is peculiar to themselves, gazetista, for a lover of the gazette. [Isaac Disraeli, "Curiosities of Literature," 1835]
Gazzetta It., Sp. gazeta, Fr. E. gazette; prop. the name of a Venetian coin (from gaza), so in Old English. Others derive gazette from gazza a magpie, which, it is alleged, was the emblem figured on the paper; but it does not appear on any of the oldest Venetian specimens preserved at Florence. The first newspapers appeared at Venice about the middle of the 16th century during the war with Soliman II, in the form of a written sheet, for the privilege of reading which a gazzetta (= a crazia) was paid. Hence the name was transferred to the news-sheet. [T.C. Donkin, "Etymological Dictionary of the Romance Languages" (based on Diez), 1864]
GAZETTE. A paper of public intelligence and news of divers countries, first printed at Venice, about the year 1620, and so called (some say) because una gazetta, a small piece of Venetian coin, was given to buy or read it. Others derive the name from gazza, Italian for magpie, i.e. chatterer.—Trusler. A gazette was printed in France in 1631; and one in Germany in 1715. [Haydn's "Dictionary of Dates," 1857]
Related entries & more 
Jaycee (n.)

1937, American English, acronym from pronunciation of J.C. (pronounced "jay-cee"), abbreviation of Junior Chamber (of Commerce).

Related entries & more 
DJ (n.)

also dee-jay, abbreviation of disk-jockey (see disk), attested by 1961.

Related entries & more