• jackleg
  • audio pronunciation
  • \JACK-leg\
  • DEFINITION

adjective

1
a : characterized by unscrupulousness, dishonesty, or lack of professional standards b : lacking skill or training : amateur
2
: designed as a temporary expedient : makeshift
  • EXAMPLES

"Ted Dawson was a pretty good jackleg carpenter." (Stephen King, It)

  • DID YOU KNOW?

Don't call someone "jackleg" unless you're prepared for that person to get angry with you. Throughout its more than 150-year-old history in English, "jackleg" has most often been used as a term of contempt and deprecation, particularly in reference to lawyers and preachers. Its form echoes that of the similar "blackleg," an older term for a cheating gambler or a worker opposed to union policies. Etymologists know that "blackleg" appeared over a hundred years before "jackleg," but they don't have any verifiable theories about the origin of either term.

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