Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A conceited or impudent person.
  • noun A mischievous child.
  • noun Archaic A monkey or an ape.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A monkey; an ape.
  • noun Hence A coxcomb; a ridiculous, impertinent fellow.
  • noun In mining, the small guide-pulleys of a whim.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A monkey; an ape.
  • noun A coxcomb; an impertinent or conceited fellow.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun obsolete A monkey.
  • noun dated, pejorative An impudent or mischievous person.
  • noun Plural form of jackanape.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun someone who is unimportant but cheeky and presumptuous

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[From Middle English Jack Napis, nickname of William de la Pole, Fourth Earl and First Duke of Suffolk (1396–1450), probably ultimately from alteration of ape, monkey, ape (because his coat of arms depicted a chain and clog of the kind used to tether a pet monkey).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

1450, from “Jack of Naples”, with “of Naples” rendered “a Napes” in vernacular. Originally rendered as Jac Napes, Jac Nape, and Jack Napis in 1450s. Presumably from *Jak a Napes, and original *Jak of Naples, presumably circa 1400. Monkeys were one of many exotic goods from Naples exhibited in Britain, hence acquired the nickname Jack a Napes.

Examples

  • The Countess might accuse him, but Harry never had the ambition to make people think him that: his natural tendency was the reverse: and he objected to the application of the word jackanapes to himself, and was ready to contest the fact of people having that opinion at all.

    Evan Harrington — Complete

  • The Countess might accuse him, but Harry never had the ambition to make people think him that: his natural tendency was the reverse: and he objected to the application of the word jackanapes to himself, and was ready to contest the fact of people having that opinion at all.

    Evan Harrington — Volume 5

  • The Countess might accuse him, but Harry never had the ambition to make people think him that: his natural tendency was the reverse: and he objected to the application of the word jackanapes to himself, and was ready to contest the fact of people having that opinion at all.

    Complete Project Gutenberg Works of George Meredith

  • I shan't pick up the 'jackanapes' or the 'rascal.'

    Dr. Dumany's Wife

  • It would be almost too easy to pull information out of this unctuous jackanapes.

    Earl of Durkness

  • It would be almost too easy to pull information out of this unctuous jackanapes.

    Earl of Durkness

  • It would be almost too easy to pull information out of this unctuous jackanapes.

    Earl of Durkness

  • "But do you realize that I would be looked upon as the most foolish jackanapes in the South Seas if I took a young girl like you in with me here on Berande?" he asked.

    Chapter 13

  • I, for one, want my effing money back from these two faced jackanapes.

    Think Progress » Letters Reveal Top GOP Lawmakers Demanded Stimulus Money As ‘Vital’ Job Creating Engines

  • The grinning, slithering jackanapes is reportedly going to concentrate his sales pitch on the U.S., suspecting that we Brits would sooner chew our tongues than buy his book when it is published on Sept. 13.

    Boycott Blair's Book!

Comments

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  • One of my father's repertory of scathing insults.

    (Nickname, Jack Napes) Perhaps first applied and referring to Wm. de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, (15th cent.), whose badge was a clog and chain like that of a tame ape.

    A conceited or impertinent fellow; a pert child.

    January 11, 2009