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

  • adj. Lacking skill or training; incompetent. Used especially of lawyers or preachers.
  • adj. Unscrupulous or dishonest.
  • adj. Makeshift; temporary.
  • n. An unskilled or unscrupulous itinerant worker.
  • n. A strikebreaker.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. amateur, untrained, incompetent
  • adj. dishonest, unscrupulous
  • n. A type of drill operated by means of compressed air.


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

Perhaps jack + (black)leg.


  • Huckabee is a jackleg preacher turned politician and doesn't like Romney because he's Mormon.

    Huckabee takes aim at 'Romneycare'

  • With stinging satire, Ms. Lamb unveils a host of eccentric characters that include a grandmother whose down-home observations often echo a Moms Mabley routine, and a jackleg preacher reminiscent of Reverend Ike.

    A Kettle of Vultures

  • Enid2s husband was supposed to be a Brightblade, not some outlander tricked up like a jackleg executioner.


  • A jackleg former senator from Texas, whom you might have heard of, lobbying for a Swiss bank awash in U.S. subprime mortgages while, at the same time, advising a certain geriatric presidential candidate on economic policy, which would include what to do to fix the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis.

    Poll: Obama Losing To McCain In Michigan -- But Hillary As VP Might Help

  • What turned the state for Bush was all of the above plus getting out the word through the jackleg preacher netwook statewide that the Democrats plan on taking their Bibles away.

    Poll: Obama Losing West Virginia Primary By More Than Two To One

  • I think the phrase that your folks reserve for the fellow who built this house is “jackleg.”

    Waldo Jaquith - Dressing warmly to save money.

  • As a confirmed rightwing nutjob, please do not lump us all in with the jackleg Republicans in Congress.

    The Myth of 'Fiscal Conservatism'

  • He is, as Ford described him to Fonda, a jackleg lawyer in Springfield, Ill., who finds himself defending two men in a murder trial.

    Mr. Ford’s Mr. Lincoln

  • The bonanza yielded $20 million in ore between 1863 and 1867, and triggered a jackleg gentrification, the materials hauled in from San Francisco.

    Mark Twain

  • He kept himself stimulated by hitting San Francisco regularly, and by turning the little hovel into a kind of jackleg salon.

    Mark Twain


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  • Mike Cohen’s a slippery twister

    Who loves to be thought a slick fixer.

    At law he’s the dreg,

    A shabby jackleg,

    But passably good as a trickster.

    May 29, 2018

  • (noun) - (1) A lawyer whose record would not be regarded in a desirable light; this term is equivalent to black-leg.

    --John Farmer's Americanisms Old and New, 1889

    (2) An incompetent or unskilled or unprincipled person; frequently used of lawyers and preachers.

    --Sir James Murray's New English Dictionary, 1901

    January 17, 2018

  • You have a point. Still, I enjoyed the "mood" of the book, and certainly all the new words I picked up. :-)

    February 19, 2008

  • In some ways it's a colourless thing given the material he had to work with. Anyway, I'm not given to lit crit so I'll say no more. Glad to keep you happy mate!

    February 19, 2008

  • Bilby, I'm enjoying these excerpts from MacLeod's novel. Just read it myself a few months ago. :-)

    February 19, 2008

  • "After the shafts were sunk to the required depths the drifts were driven in the direction of the ore. Clann Chalum Ruaidh leaned into the jacklegs at the rock face, the hammering of the wet revolving bits changing the stone into dribbles of grey water which trickled from the holes like constant streams of watery semen or liquid, weak cement."

    - 'No Great Mischief', Alistair MacLeod.

    February 19, 2008