jack·​al | \ˈja-kəl also -ˌkȯl \

Definition of jackal 

1 : any of several small omnivorous canids (such as Canis aureus) of Africa and Asia having large ears, long legs, and bushy tails

2a : a person who performs routine or menial tasks for another

b : a person who serves or collaborates with another especially in the commission of base acts

Examples of jackal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

And the Egyptian gods included one, Anubis, with the head of a dog or a jackal. John Hooper, WSJ, "Pompeii, Buried for Centuries, Yields New Finds," 9 Oct. 2018 So jackals at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee leaped. George Skelton, latimes.com, "Give California’s top-two primary some more time, and if it doesn’t get better, junk it," 11 June 2018 Hyenas chased off the smaller jackals, fighting amongst themselves for the prize. National Geographic, "Our Favorite Lion Videos Reveal the Power of Predators," 10 Aug. 2017 Without light, the snipers and jackals patrolling the streets disappear. Charles Theel, Ars Technica, "This War of Mine," 28 Oct. 2017 Even a jackal move – firing or reassigning Pagano and replacing him with Arians – wouldn’t have worked, because Arians wouldn’t have taken the job under those conditions. Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: The uncomfortable truth – Bruce Arians is a better coach than Chuck Pagano," 14 Sep. 2017 His regiment occasionally found time to hunt on horseback for jackals. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, "Michael Sandberg Dragged HSBC Into the Post-Colonial World," 14 July 2017 Today, meat-eaters in Africa like hyenas, jackals and big cats are all adding to tomorrow’s fossil record, says says Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History paleoanthropologist Briana. Brian Switek, Smithsonian, "Why Paleontologists Should Love Meat-Eaters," 30 Jan. 2017 To your health: Hey look, everybody, there goes Sen. Lisa Murkowski, chased by a pack of rabid jackals a group of Capitol reporters. Dan Sweeney, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Wasserman Schultz back in the hot seat," 27 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'jackal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of jackal

1603, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for jackal

Turkish çakal, from Persian shaqāl, of Indo-Aryan origin; akin to Sanskrit sṛgāla jackal

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about jackal

Statistics for jackal

Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for jackal

The first known use of jackal was in 1603

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for jackal



English Language Learners Definition of jackal

: a wild dog found in Africa and Asia


jack·​al | \ˈja-kəl \

Kids Definition of jackal

: a wild dog of Africa and Asia like but smaller than a wolf

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on jackal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with jackal

Spanish Central: Translation of jackal

Nglish: Translation of jackal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about jackal

Comments on jackal

What made you want to look up jackal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to enclose within walls

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!