- jacinth[jacinth 词源字典]
- jacinth: see hyacinth
[jacinth etymology, jacinth origin, 英语词源]
- jade: English has two words jade, of which by far the commoner nowadays is the name of the green stone . Despite the mineral’s close association with China and Japan, the term has no Oriental connections. It is of Latin origin, and started life in fact as a description of the stone’s medical applications. Latin īlia denoted the ‘sides of the lower torso’, the ‘flanks’, the part of the body where the kidneys are situated (English gets iliac  from it).
In Vulgar Latin this became *iliata, which passed into Spanish as ijada. Now it was thought in former times that jade could cure pain in the renal area, so the Spanish called it piedra de ijada, literally ‘stone of the flanks’. In due course this was reduced to simply ijada, which passed into English via French. (Jade’s alternative name, nephrite , is based on the same idea; it comes from Greek nephrós ‘kidney’.) English’s other word jade  now survives really only in its derivative adjective jaded ‘tired, sated’ .
It originally meant ‘worn-out horse’, and was later transferred metaphorically to ‘disreputable woman’. Its origins are not known.
=> iliac; jaded
- jail:  Etymologically, a jail is a ‘little cage’. The word comes ultimately from Vulgar Latin *gaviola, which was an alteration of an earlier *caveola, a diminutive form of Latin cavea ‘cage’ (source of English cage). It passed into English in two distinct versions: jail came via Old French jaiole; but the Old Northern French form of the word was gaiole, and this produced English gaol.
Until the 17th century gaol was pronounced with a hard /g/ sound, but then it gradually fell into line phonetically with jail. There has been a tendency for British English to use the spelling gaol, while American prefers jail, but there are now signs that jail is on the increase in Britain.
- jam:  The verb jam, meaning ‘press tightly together’, first appears in the early 18th century (the earliest-known unequivocal example of its transitive use is in Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe 1719: ‘The ship stuck fast, jaum’d in between two rocks’). It is not known where it came from, but it is generally assumed to be imitative or symbolic in some way of the effort of pushing.
Equally mysterious are the origins of jam the sweet substance spread on bread, which appeared around the same time. Contemporary etymologists were nonplussed (Nathan Bailey had a stab in the 1730s: ‘prob. of J’aime, i.e. I love it; as Children used to say in French formerly, when they liked any Thing’; but Dr Johnson in 1755 confessed ‘I know not whence derived’); and even today the best guess that can be made is that the word refers to the ‘jamming’ or crushing of fruit into jars.
- jamb: see gammon
- January:  The ancient Romans had a god named Janus whose head had two faces, looking in opposite directions. He was the tutelary deity of doorways, and his festival month was at the beginning of the year, when he could look both backwards at the old year and forwards to the new one. This month was therefore called Jānuārius mensis ‘month of Janus’ – whence English January.
- japan:  The hard laquer varnish called japan received its name, of course, because it came from Japan. But where did the name Japan come from? For the Japanese call their country Nippon. The answer is Chinese, where jih pun means literally ‘sunrise’ (jih is ‘sun’, and the equivalent term in Japanese is ni, so Japanese Nippon too is the ‘land of the rising sun’). The Chinese word came into English via Malay Japang. Another English derivative is the name of the shrub japonica , which originated in Japan.
- jaundice:  Jaundice is literally ‘yellowness’. The word came from Old French jaunice, which was a derivative of the adjective jaune ‘yellow’ (the d in the middle appeared towards the end of the 14th century). The derived adjective jaundiced  originally meant simply ‘suffering from jaundice’, but the association of the yellowish colour with bitterness and envy soon produced the figurative meaning familiar today.
- jaunty: see gentle
- jaw:  Given that it is a fairly important part of the body, our knowledge of the origins of the word for ‘jaw’ is surprisingly sketchy. The Old English terms for ‘jaw’ were céace (modern English cheek) and ceafl (ancestor of modern English jowl), and when jaw first turns up towards the end of the 14th century it is in the form iowe. This strongly suggests a derivation from Old French joe ‘cheek’, but the connection has never been established for certain, and many etymologists consider it more likely that it is related to chew.
- jay:  Like the robin, the jay may have been christened originally with a human name; Latin Gaius. At all events, the term for it in postclassical Latin was gaius, which passed into English via Old French jay. The term jaywalker for ‘one who crosses the road illegally’ originated in the USA around the time of World War I; it was based on an American use of jay for a ‘fool’ or ‘simpleton’.
- jazz:  Words of unknown origin always attract speculation, and it is hardly surprising that such an unusual and high-profile one as jazz (first recorded in 1913) should have had more than its fair share (one of the more ingenious and colourful theories is that it comes from the nickname of one Jasbo Brown, an itinerant black musician along the Mississippi – Jasbo perhaps being an alteration of Jasper).
Given that the word emerged in Black English (probably originally in the sense ‘copulation’), it is not surprising that attempts have been made to link it with some West African language, and picture it crossing the Atlantic with the slave ships, but there is no convincing evidence for that (the scenario seems to have got started with a 1917 article in the New York Sun, which was purely the invention of a press agent).
- jealous:  Etymologically, jealousy and zeal are two sides of the same coin. Both come ultimately from Greek zelos. This passed into post-classical Latin as zēlus, which later produced the adjective zēlōsus. Old French took this over as gelos or jelous and passed it on to English. The Greek word denoted ‘jealousy’ as well as ‘fervour, enthusiasm’, and it is this strand of meaning that has come down to us in jealous. Jalousie, incidentally, the French equivalent of jealousy, was borrowed into English in the 19th century in the sense ‘blind, shutter’ – the underlying notion apparently being that one can look through the slats without oneself being seen.
- jeans:  Jeans of the sort we would recognize today – close-fitting working trousers made of hard-wearing, typically blue cloth – emerged in America in the mid-19th century. But their antecedents have to be sought in a far distant place. The first known reference to trousers called jeans actually comes from mid-19thcentury England: ‘Septimus arrived flourishin’ his cambric, with his white jeans strapped under his chammy leather opera boots’, R S Surtees, Handley Cross 1843.
Why the name jeans? Because they were made of jean, a sort of tough twilled cotton cloth. This was short for jean fustian, a term first introduced into English in the mid-16th century, in which the jean represented a modification of Janne, the Old French name of the Italian city of Genoa. So jean fustian was ‘cotton fabric from Genoa’, so named because that was where it was first made.
- jejune: see dinner
- jelly:  The central idea of ‘coagulation’ takes us back to the ultimate source of jelly, the Latin verb gelāre ‘freeze’ (which also gave English congeal ). Its feminine past participle gelāta was used in Vulgar Latin for a substance solidified out of a liquid, and this passed into Old French as gelee, meaning both ‘frost’ and ‘jelly’ – whence the English word. (Culinarily, jelly at first denoted a savoury substance, made from gelatinous parts of animals; it was not really until the early 19th century that the ancestors of modern fruit jellies began to catch on in a big way.) The Italian descendant of gelāta was gelata.
From it was formed a diminutive, gelatina, which English acquired via French as gelatine . Gel  is an abbreviation of it.
=> cold, congeal, gel, gelatine
- jeopardy:  The semantic focus of jeopardy has changed subtly over the centuries. Originally it meant ‘even chance’, but gambling being the risky business it is, and human nature having a strong streak of pessimism, attention was soon focussed on the ‘chanciness’ rather than the ‘evenness’, and by the late 14th century jeopardy was being used in its modern sense ‘risk of loss or harm, danger’. The word originated in the Old French expression jeu parti, literally ‘divided play’, hence ‘even chance’. It was to begin with a term in chess and similar board games.
- jerry-built:  In the absence of any watertight evidence, many theories have been put forward to account for this adjective (first recorded in 1869). One (touted in newspaper correspondence as early as 1884) holds that it immortalizes the incompetence of a firm of Liverpool builders named Jerry, but no proof of that has ever been found. Another would link it, ingeniously, with the walls of Jericho, which fell down as soon as Joshua blew his trumpet.
- jet: English has two distinct words jet. The older, which denotes a type of black stone used in jewellery , comes via Old French jaiet and Latin gagātēs from Greek gagátēs, which denoted ‘stone from Gagai’, a town in Lycia, in Asia Minor, where it was found. The jet of ‘jet engines’  goes back ultimately to a word that meant ‘throw’ – Latin jacere (from which English also gets inject, project, reject, etc).
A derivative of this was jactāre, which also meant ‘throw’. It passed via Vulgar Latin *jectāre into Old French as jeter, and when English took it over it was originally used for ‘protrude, stick out’: ‘the houses jetting over aloft like the poops of ships, to shadow the streets’, George Sandys, Travels 1615. This sense is perhaps best preserved in jetty ‘projecting pier’, and in the variant form jut , while the underlying meaning ‘throw’ is still present in jettison ‘throw things overboard’ and its contracted form jetsam.
But back with the verb jet, in the 17th century it began to be used for ‘spurt out in a forceful stream’. The notion of using such a stream to create forward motion was first encapsulated in the term jet propulsion in the mid 19th century, but it did not take concrete form for nearly a hundred years (the term jet engine is not recorded until 1943).
=> inject, jetsam, jettison, jetty, jut, project, reject, subject
- jettison:  Etymologically, to jettison something is to ‘throw’ it overboard. Like jet, as in ‘jet engine’, the word comes from Latin jactāre ‘throw’. The abstract noun derived from this was jactātiō, which entered English via Anglo-Norman getteson. It was used for the ‘action of throwing cargo overboard, especially in order to lighten a ship’, but it was not converted to its familiar modern role, as a verb, until as recently as the 19th century. The contracted form jetson, later jetsam, emerged in the 16th century, and later came to be used for such jettisoned material washed ashore.
=> jet, jctsam