Printable Version
Pronunciation: jayp Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A practical joke, a deceitful trick.

Notes: This word fits right into alphaDictionary's efforts to rescue words that are on the brink of extinction. This noun may be used as a verb, so someone who japes is a japer and the stuff japes are made of is called japery.

In Play: Although seldom read or heard in the US, today's Good Word still appears however rarely in recent publications: "Jerry Mander's announcement that he was running for governor started out as a jape, but later that day he discovered it had gone viral on Twitter and Facebook." Which raises the question: "What kind of devilish gods would have created a worldful of japes such as us?"

Word History: Jape the noun and verb are known from the 14th century. It is not certain whether the verb or the noun came first, since their derivation remains murky. The verb agrees in form with Old French japer, modern French japper "to yelp" (as a dog), but there appears no connection of the meaning of japer and the English word. On the other hand, jape is nearly identical in meaning with Old French gaber "to mock, deride". We are sure that gab was borrowed from this French verb, but no known phonetic laws enable us to connect gaber and japer. It has been suggested that the two French verbs merged into the English verb; however, no evidence has been found supporting such a process. (We are happy that Jeremy Busch was not japing when he recommended today's Good Word for our series."

Dr. Goodword,

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