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[jak-uh-neyps] /ˈdʒæk əˌneɪps/
an impertinent, presumptuous person, especially a young man; whippersnapper.
an impudent, mischievous child.
Archaic. an ape or monkey.
Origin of jackanapes
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English Jakken-apes, literally, jack (i.e., man) of the ape, nickname of William de la Pole (1396-1450), Duke of Suffolk, whose badge was an ape's clog and chain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for jackanapes
Historical Examples
  • But where is my jackanapes, that should have been here to salute his mistress?

    A Monk of Fife Andrew Lang
  • Tony was not enterprising, and jackanapes led him by the nose.

    Jackanapes Juliana Horatio Ewing
  • The lad seized the end of the rope as it descended, and hanging on like a jackanapes, was soon dangling in the air.

    The Winning of the Golden Spurs Percy F. Westerman
  • At the first opportunity jackanapes stole away again to the common.

    Jackanapes Juliana Horatio Ewing
  • But she had turned her back on us pettishly, and was talking in a low voice to her jackanapes.

    A Monk of Fife Andrew Lang
  • "You're too tall for Lollo, I think," said jackanapes, measuring his grandfather with his eye.

    Jackanapes Juliana Horatio Ewing
  • A jackanapes or monkey on horseback was generally the winding-up of a bear or bull baiting at Paris Garden.

  • You an officer, jackanapes; why we should want a cow on board to give you milk.

    Dick Cheveley W. H. G. Kingston
  • That accomplished, I shall arrest the Dowager and her son and every jackanapes within that castle.

    St. Martin's Summer Rafael Sabatini
  • That jackanapes's life was infinitely valuable, and his—Tony's—was not; 4.

    Children's Literature Charles Madison Curry
British Dictionary definitions for jackanapes


a conceited impertinent person
a mischievous child
(archaic) a monkey
Word Origin
C16: variant of Jakken-apes, literally: Jack of the ape, nickname of William de la Pole (1396–1450), first Duke of Suffolk, whose badge showed an ape's ball and chain
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 jackanapes

mid-15c., "a monkey," also "an impertinent, conceited fellow;" apparently from Jack of Naples, but whether this is some specific personification or folk etymology of jack (n.) + ape is unknown. See note in OED.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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