Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
March 24th, 2015
Episode 145 of 713 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for March 24, 2015 is: jackanapes \JAK-uh-nayps\ noun 1 : monkey, ape 2 a : an impudent or conceited fellow b : a saucy or mischievous child Examples: Mrs. Hobson had her neighbor's son pegged as a disrespectful jackanapes and was therefore reluctant to hire him to shovel the driveway. "If I were still the rambunctious little jackanapes I once was, I would have stayed in the room and played astronaut all day." Christopher Muther, Boston Globe, August 16, 2014 Did you know? William de la Pole, the Duke of Suffolk, was a well-regarded soldier and commander during the Hundred Years' War. It was during his dukedom (14481450), however, that England lost its possessions in northern France, and his popularity consequently suffered. The coat of arms for de la Pole's family sported an image of a collar and chain that, at the time, was commonly used for leashing pet monkeys, then known as jackanapes (a word whose precise origin is uncertain). By association, people gave the Duke the nickname "Jack Napis," and soon jackanapes took on a life of its own as a word for an impudent person and, later, a misbehaving child.