Word Origin & History
c.1300, common European bird (Garrulus glandarinus), from O.Fr. gai, from L.L. gaius "a jay," probably echoic and supposedly influenced by L. Gaius, a common proper name. For other bird names from proper names, cf. martin
. Applied to
the N.Amer. blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata) from 1709. Applied to humans in sense of "impertinent chatterer, flashy dresser" from 1620s. Jayhawker is Amer.Eng., 1858, originally "freebooter, guerrilla, Kansas irregular" (esp. one who came from the North). Jay was slang for "fourth-rate, worthless" (1888) cf. a jay town.