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[jak-uh l, -awl] /ˈdʒæk əl, -ɔl/
any of several nocturnal wild dogs of the genus Canis, especially C. aureus, of Asia and Africa, that scavenge or hunt in packs.
a person who performs dishonest or base deeds as the follower or accomplice of another.
a person who performs menial or degrading tasks for another.
1595-1605; < alteration, by association with Jack, of Persian shag(h)āl; cognate with Sanskrit śṛgāla Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for jackals
  • The vampires and jackals of society began to trade on this obsession.
  • jackals and hyenas are the scavengers of the land whereas vultures are the undisputed scavengers of the air.
  • It is a refrain that some mammals, such as foxes, badgers and jackals-and even a few birds-seem to have taken to heart.
  • There are also many foxes and some jackals in the small gorges around.
  • They sat around it smoking and talking, looking at the stars, wishing for home as wild dogs or jackals howled in the desert.
  • Leopards, hyenas, warthogs and jackals also have been spotted here.
British Dictionary definitions for jackals


any of several African or S Asian canine mammals of the genus Canis, closely related to the dog, having long legs and pointed ears and muzzle: predators and carrion-eaters
a person who does menial tasks for another
a villain, esp a swindler
Word Origin
C17: from Turkish chakāl, from Persian shagāl, from Sanskrit srgāla
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for jackals



c.1600, from Turkish çakal, from Persian shaghal, from or cognate with Sanskrit srgala-s, literally "the howler." Figurative sense of "skulking henchman" is from the old belief that jackals stirred up game for lions.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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