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etymology of Jackanapes

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dr bartolo
846456.  Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:43 am Reply with quote

the etymology of the word "jackanapes" is a Quite Interesting subject.

the term came about, apparently from jack-a naples, in the sense of a chained monkey. The reason for this, being that monkeys were imported from naples.

However, when it is used in the sense of "impertinent person" then it gets interesting. the most common, is, to quote wikipediea

In sense “upstart person”, applied to 15th century William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk, one of first nouveau riche nobles (risen from merchant class). The family used a collar and chain on their coat of arms, which was an unfortunate choice, as this was more associated with monkey leashes, leading to the derisive nickname Jack Napis for de la Pole, yielding the insult.

However, another etymology states that it is not "jack naipis" but rather
"jack-a naipes" naipes being the spanish for playing cards, hence "jack of cards"

which one is more likely?

909905.  Thu May 17, 2012 8:15 am Reply with quote

I favour the chained ape, one of Suffolks livery badges (Emblem worn by members of his household and his soldiers) is 'a white apes clog with a gold chain'

Here are chained apes being used as 'Supporters' to his Arms

Early Spanish decks of cards used the term La Sota or El Caballo for the lower value court cards. English decks start by using the Knave or Valet and don't become Jacks until the17thC.

dr bartolo
909926.  Thu May 17, 2012 9:53 am Reply with quote

The courts of the native spanish-suited decks are, the
Rey, Caballo, and Sota, viz; King, Knight and Knave . Such decks do not have Queens.
When the spanish use french suited cards ( whch have queens, called Reina), they call the Jack "Paje".

As an interesting sidenote, The english are pretty good when it comes to mangling foregin terms . when playing cards were introduced to england, decks were called "jews" - a corruption of the french jeu. The Court cards were known as "teates"- Tętes, and the jacks were "varletts' - Valets[/i]

Spud McLaren
909970.  Thu May 17, 2012 2:10 pm Reply with quote

dr bartolo wrote:
..., The english are pretty good when it comes to mangling foregin terms ...


[bold mine]

910157.  Fri May 18, 2012 1:23 pm Reply with quote

Tom Bowler in his 2009 book The Completely Superior Person's Book of Words provides the following etymology (or rather etymologies):

Tom Bowler wrote:
Authorities differ on the derivation. The Concise Oxford Dictionary links the names of Jack Napes and William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk in the fifteenth century, whose badge was a clog and chain of the kind used for a tame ape. Brewer offers two possibilities - Jack of Apes and Jack-apes (the latter on the analogy of jackass). Webster suggests Jack of Naples, the word jack in this case meaning monkey.

He also notes that it goes nicely with popinjay and coxcomb.


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