Grant Barrett gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG
Thu Sep 27 16:39:32 UTC 2001

On 9/27/01 05:43, "Jonathon Green" <slang at BLUEYONDER.CO.UK> wrote:

> Jackleg: seems to to find its ultimate source in the UK-wide 18C/19C dialect
> _jack-a-legs_, a large, single-bladed clasp knife, usu. with a broad, square
> blade. Thence seen as the type of knife a slapdash or unskilled caprenter
> might use rather than more sophisticated tools and appears in US in mid-19C
> as the simple 'unskilled', with alternates _jakeleg_ and _jack-legged_. Noun
> form deals with various incompetent, unskilled or unprincipled professionals
> or workers, esp. the jackleg preacher (although he can be simply an
> itinerant).

The OED note on jackleg (see jockteleg) is interesting:

"[Note. Lord Hailes Spec. Sc. Gloss. (c1776) 18, says ŒThe etymology of this
word remained unknown till not many years ago an old knife was found having
this inscription Jacques de Liege, the name of the cutler¹. A similar
statement is made by Smiles Industr. Biog. (1863) 101, and Jevons Coal
Question (1866) 91. The former says ŒJacques de Liege, a famous foreign
cutler whose knives were as well known throughout Europe, as those of
Rodgers or Mappin are now¹. On the face of it this account is plausible: it
was not uncommon in Sc. for de to be corrupted to the, e.g. the Bruce; the
change of d to t after k is also phonetically simple. But, for the present,
Scottish antiquaries have failed to find any confirmation, in knife or
document, of Hailes's statement; and inquiries made for us at Liege have
been equally unsuccessful in finding any trace of Jacques the cutler.]"


Grant Barrett
gbarrett at worldnewyork.org
New York Loves You Back

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