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.
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