A Dictionary of Catch Phrases: British and American, from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day

By Paul Beale; Eric Partridge | Go to book overview
Save to active project



See: can't sleep; come ashore; fuck you, J.; high, low; hit the road; like Jack; sod you; swing that.

Jack doesn't care and Jack loves a fight

are C20, mostly RN, c.pp., referring, the former to the seaman's infectious insouciance, the latter to his love of a scrap, esp. fisticuffs.

jack-knife carpenter!

is 'a cry of derision hurled at a man, especially a carpenter, who uses a pocket knife in an emergency. Legend has it that all jack-knife carpenters end up in hell' (Leechman): Can.: since c. 1910; by 1960, ob.

Jack loves a fight.

See: Jack doesn't care.

Jack's come home

is a theatrical c.p., applied to a happy-go-lucky, slapdash hotel or boarding house: C20. It occurs in, e.g. Ngaio Marsh, Vintage Murder, 1938.


See: it's gone; jammed; steady, J.


See: all the jails; forty exits; see you in court; worse in.


See: she'll be j.; that's jake.


See: all jam; d'you want; it's always; it's money; kick out; that accounts; what do you want.


See: home, James.


See: whoa, J.

jammed like Jackson.

A late C19-20 RN c.p., used when something leads to disaster or goes less, although still, seriously wrong; rather less common since c. 1945. From one John Jackson who, in 1787, refused to listen to his pilot and consequently went close to wrecking his ship. (F&G.) The earliest record of the c.p. I have occurs in W.N. Glascock, Naval Sketch-Book (chapter II, p. 136), 1826, 'Jackson's story is elaborated in the Letters and Papers of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Thomas By am Martin GCB (Navy Records Society, 1903, pp. 106-7)'-as Rear-Adm. P.W. Brock informs me. Cf up Shit Creek.


See: me Tarzan.


See: molasses in.


See: wouldn't that jar.


See: like a sheep's.


See: and all that j.


See: you're jealous.


See: carry on.


See: well, I'll go.


See: stick it, J.; walls of.


See: all jam; since Jesus.


See: more arse.


See: I love my j.


See: since J.

Jesus saves, (but) Moses invests

is 'an irreverent answer' to the over-evangelistic: US: later C20. (Ashley, 1984.)

Jesus wants me for a sunbeam, and a bloody fine sunbeam I'll be

is 'the troops' [soldiers'] version of a sacred hymn' (anon., 1978): since the 1930s(?). P.B.: the hymn parodied is by Nellie Talbot; it appears, e.g., as No. 100 in The Methodist School Hymnal (Primary Department and Infant School), where occurs also, as No. 73, 'Jesus loves me! this I know,/For the Bible tells me so', altered by 'the troops' to Jesus loves me! Yes, I know! So does Ragtime Cowboy Joe. No. 73 is by Anna Warner. Hymnals such as this would, in the days when attendance at Sunday School was much more widespread than it is now, have provided a common background of musical experience for many servicemen. I surmise that the dating of these parodies is earlier than E.P. allows, perhaps pre-WW1. Jew(s). See: cold enough; some of my.


See: long may; more wind; never let it.

jig is up-the.

The game is up-All is discovered: US: c. 1860-1920. George P. Barnham, in his very readable Memoirs, 1872.


See: hello, Jim; I'm worried.

Jim Smith.

See: I'll give you.


See: hasn't got a ha'penny.


See: blue-stockinged; gissa; it only wanted; just the job; that job's; there's another; wish I; you'll do; you're fond; and:

job and finish.

'When a ship did not have much cargo the dockers would work the holds until the job was done, [thus] getting a double stamp on their [pay-] books' (W. Ash, glossary to Childhood Days [n.d., late 1970s], on life as a London docker). Not peculiar to dockers, of course; used in other occupations where piece-work is the rule,

jobs for the boys

has become a lighthearted c.p., synon. with 'nepotism'. But orig. it was a political, hence soon a semi-political, c.p., that was current while Leslie Hore-Belisha was Minister of Transport (1934-7); it could, however, have arisen early, for every Minister and every Government is, by the nature of things, wide open to such charges; some, admittedly, more than others. (David Hardman, 1974.)

'A c.p. that is used by and of members of the Australian Labor Party' (B.P., 1975).


See: stand to; stop yer.


See: Confucius; them's the j.


See: get up, J.; have a go, J.; just tell 'em; knock three times; not for Joseph; say it ain't so; Uncle Joe; what do you know, J.

Joe Miller.

See: I don't see.

Joe sent me.

See: knock three times…


See: easy as shaking; old John; speak for.

John Bull.

See: write.

John Hughes won't save yer!


John Orderly! (or Audley!)

is a US circus people's command to hurry: C20. (Recorded in Berrey and elsewhere.) By a sort of hasty or slapdash disguising of order!-i.e., come to order, and get moving!

John Whoball.

See: he is none.

Johnnie Walker.

See: still going strong.


See: I'll venture.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
A Dictionary of Catch Phrases: British and American, from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 389

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?