plural jack-in-the-boxes or jacks-in-the-box
: a toy consisting of a small box out of which a figure (as of a clown's head) springs when the lid is raised

Examples of jack-in-the-box in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The play wants Josh’s secret involving a past incident with his father-in-law to spring out at the climax like a jack-in-the-box, but the information, already hazily intuited by the audience, is awkwardly integrated into the larger story. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 16 Oct. 2023 Frequent disruptions put us on high alert like a jack-in-the-box, triggering a release of adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol. Brittany Harker Martin, Fortune Well, 4 May 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'jack-in-the-box.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1659, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of jack-in-the-box was in 1659

Dictionary Entries Near jack-in-the-box

Cite this Entry

“Jack-in-the-box.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jack-in-the-box. Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

jack-in-the-box

noun
ˈjak-ən-t͟hə-ˌbäks
plural jack-in-the-boxes or jacks-in-the-box
: a small box out of which a figure (as of a clown's head) springs when the lid is raised

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