\ ˈjāp How to pronounce jape (audio) \
japed; japing

Definition of jape

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to say or do something jokingly or mockingly

transitive verb

: to make mocking fun of



Definition of jape (Entry 2 of 2)

: something designed to arouse amusement or laughter: such as
a : gibe
b : an amusing literary or dramatic production a jape that would be okay as a sophomore class play— John Simon

Other Words from jape


japer \ ˈjā-​pər How to pronounce jape (audio) \ noun
japery \ ˈjā-​p(ə-​)rē How to pronounce jape (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for jape

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did you know?


Jape mysteriously appeared in the English language during the 14th century and was adopted by literary folks, such as Geoffrey Chaucer, as a word meaning both "to trick" and "to jeer." It was also used, however, with the meanings "to seduce (someone)" or "to have sexual intercourse." This ambiguity forced writers to think twice about using "jape" in fear of misinterpretation. Ultimately, the word was avoided by respectable writers, and by the end of the 16th century it had fallen into disuse. But this four-letter word was not completely forgotten. It got its second chance when 19th-century writers began using its "jeer" meaning again - leaving its carnal meaning in oblivion.

Examples of jape in a Sentence

Verb the characters in Oscar Wilde's plays jape with a readiness and sophistication that is rarely, if ever, encountered in real life Noun by the standards of today's no-holds-barred satire, Will Rogers' homespun japes about politicians seem awfully gentle
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Director Aaron Posner’s organizing notion proves far better suited to a short skit than a full 150 minutes of expository twists — and antiquated japes. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 22 Jan. 2020 The coffee table part is a funny jape about the design’s similarity to a piece of midcentury furniture, an undulating shape raised on legs; but the kunsthalle part is more telling. Christopher Knight, latimes.com, 9 July 2019 Local guffaw nuts can hit up the annual jape show that is the Orlando Comedy Festival (6 p.m. Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday, Hilton Garden Inn at SeaWorld, 6850 Westwood Blvd. in Orlando, $20-$35, orlandocomedyfestival.com). Trevor Fraser, orlandosentinel.com, 19 June 2019 Bankruptcy jape Elon Musk sought to lighten the mood after one of the worst weeks for Tesla Inc. in its 15-year history with a series of April Fool’s Day tweets about bankruptcy. Bloomberg.com, 2 Apr. 2018 The latter was a jape; the former was a cautionary howl. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, 30 Mar. 2018

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

First Known Use of jape


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for jape


Middle English

Learn More About jape

Time Traveler for jape

Time Traveler

The first known use of jape was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About jape

Dictionary Entries Near jape

Jap clover



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for jape

Cite this Entry

“Jape.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jape. Accessed 6 Jul. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on jape

Nglish: Translation of jape for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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