from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- A tropical tree (Hernandia sonora), which bears a drupe that rattles when dry in the inflated calyx.
- A child's toy, consisting of a box, out of which, when the lid is raised, a figure (usually a clown) springs; also called jack-in-the-box.
- An epicyclic train of bevel gears for transmitting rotary motion to two parts in such a manner that their relative rotation may be variable; applied to driving the wheels of tricycles, road locomotives, and to cotton machinery, etc.; an equation box; a jack frame; -- called also compensating gearing.
- A large wooden screw turning in a nut attached to the crosspiece of a rude press.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A kind of toy, consisting of a box out of which, when the lid is unfastened, a figure springs.
- n. A street peddler who sells his wares from a temporary stall or box.
- n. A gambling sport in which some article placed on a stick set upright in a hole is pitched at with sticks. If the article when struck falls clear of the hole, the thrower wins.
- n. Same as jack-frame.
- n. A screw-jack used to raise and stow cargo.
- n. A large wooden male screw turning in a female screw, which forms the upper part of a strong wooden box. It is used, by means of levers passing through it, as a press in packing, and for other purposes.
- n. A plant of the genus Hernandia (H. Sonora), which bears a large nut that rattles in its pericarp when shaken.
- n. A hermit-crab, as Eupagurus pollicaris: so called by fishermen.
- n. A very small but powerful sorew-jack used by burglars to force locks, particularly to pull the spindle of a combination lock from the door.
- n. A device for holding the tool on a planing-machine in position while cutting.
- n. In Australia, same as hairtrigger-flower. Also called trigger-plant. See hairtrigger-ftower and Stylidium.
Sorry, no etymologies found.
Imagine winding up a jack-in-a-box and having that thing pop out at you, yikes!
Accordingly, this jack-in-a-box batsman got off to a flyer, dispatching Broad to the off-side fence three times and putting any doubts that emerged after his working over against England Lions at Worcester last week to the back of his mind.
President Reagan was, imho, a genius; when the timing was right, Reagan jumped out like a jack-in-a-box to convincingly outfox his political opponents, both foreign and domestic.
A regular jack-in-a-box, he is here, there and everywhere.
He drew up his feet beneath him, straightened up like a jack-in-a-box, took a hop-skip-jump, and with a flourish of golden heels, flopped head-first into the roadside ditch's rank luxuriance.
Uncle Bentley shot up like a jack-in-a-box and cantered down the aisle.
It was still taught that the larynx (voice-box) should bob up and down like a jack-in-a-box with each change of pitch, and that "female breathing" must be performed with a pumping action of the chest and the elevation and depression of the collar bone.
I always keep my conscience as tight shut up as a jack-in-a-box, for when it jumps into existence it surprises me by its size.
In It's That Man Again, for Easter 2001, a familiarly soulful looking Christ pops up like a jack-in-a-box, his head oddly angled - but the box is the cold stone of a tomb.
The show starts with The Trickster bursting onto the scene like a jack-in-a-box right in front of The Innocent, and that is just the first of many surprises to follow.