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• I •
Word Meaning Eponym
iris A beautiful tuber plant with large, multicolored flowers growing on a single stem resembling large orchids. Iris, Greek goddess of the rainbow; also the Greek word for "rainbow".
• J •
Word Meaning Eponym
jackanapes An impudent or mischievous person. Jack Napis, nickname of William de la Pole, Fourth Earl and First Duke of Suffolk (1396-1450).
jacuzzi A swirling, whirlpool bath. Candido Jacuzzi (1903-1986), the Italian-American who invented the whirlpool bath for his son who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis.
jansky A unit used in measuring the strength of radio sources in astronomy. Karl C. Jansky (1905-1950), Czech-born American radio engineer who, in 1932, first detected radio waves from a outer space.
January The first month of the year according to the Gregorian calendar. Janus, the Roman god of homes, thresholds, and bridges.
jehu A reckless driver. (Probably the origin of saying, "Gee!" to get a horse to go.) Jehu, the son of Nimshi, mentioned in 2 Kings 9:20: "And the watchman told, saying, He came even unto them, and cometh not again: and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi; for he driveth furiously."
jeremiad A lamentation with a prophecy of doom. Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet of the 6th and 7th centuries BCE who prophesied the doom of the Jewish people at the hands of the Babylonians during the reigns of several kings.
jeroboam A large wine bottle that holds 4/5 of a gallon. Jeroboam, the first king of the ten tribes in northern Israel (died 901 BCE).
jerican A flat-sided can holding 5 gallons for storing liquids, usually gasoline. Originally Jerry can from Jerry, a slur for a German soldier during World Wars I and II.
Jezebel A seductive woman of loose moral character. Jezebel, a Phoenician princess and the wife of Israeli king Ahab who convinced Ahab to build temples to the pagan god, Baal, in Israel and kill the prophets.
jonah A person believed to bring bad luck to those around him. Jonah, Hebrew prophet of the 8th century BCE who was reported to have been swallowed by a whale and thrown up unharmed 3 days later.
jorum A large drinking bowl. Possibly Joram, who brought vessels of silver, gold, and brass to King David (II Samuel 8:10).
joule A measure of electrical energy equal to the work of a current of one ampere against the resistance of one ohm for one second. James Prescott Joule (1818-89), the English physicist who established the mechanical theory of heat and discovered the first law of thermodynamics (1818-1889).
jovial Happy, amiable, jocular. Jove, the English for Jovialis, an alternate name for Jupiter, supreme god of Roman mythology, considered to be the source of all happiness.
Judas A traitor. Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane by identifying him for Roman solidiers.
juggernaut An unstoppable force. Jagannath "Lord of the World", the title given to the Hindu god Vishnu, a huge image of whom was once carried on a huge wagon under the wheels of which devotees would throw themselves as sacrifices.
July The seventh month of the year between June and August. Julius Caesar, July 102 or 100-44 BCE), a Roman general and emperor, and one of the most influential men in classical antiquity.
jumbo Huge, extremely large. Jumbo, a 62 ton African elephant exhibited at London Zoo from 1865 to 1882.
June The sixth month of the Gregorian Calendar between May and July. Juno, the Roman goddess of the moon, women and marriage.
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