Printable Version
Pronunciation: jing-go Hear it!

Part of Speech: Interjection, Noun

Meaning: 1. (Interjection) An emphatic exclamation as in, "We'll get the job done, by jingo!" 2. (Noun) A chauvinistic patriot, a militant and unfaltering booster of government policy, especially in support of wars.

Notes: Today's Good Word sounds a lot like jingle but is completely unrelated to this word (see Word History). The plural form requires an E: jingoes. The abstract noun that characterizes the idea and behavior of a jingo is jingoism. Several adjectival forms have been suggested: jingoish and jingoesque for "jingo-like", and jingodom for all jingoes taken collectively.

In Play: Many of us are waiting for the politician who says, "The jingoes will never lead us down the garden path to war ever again." However, I see no reason why we would have to restrict the use of this word to war boosterism: "Maury has been a persistent jingo for merging our business with McGready & Co. since the Board first suggested it as a possibility."

Word History: The exclamation, by jingo! is a euphemism that replaced by Jesus! in the middle of the 17th century. It is therefore in a class with by Jiminy! Gee-whiz! Gee whillikers!, and several others of that ilk. This phrase made its way into an 1878 British music hall song which had this chorus: "We don't want to fight, yet by Jingo! If we do, we've got the ships, we've got the men, and got the money too". Jingo was taken from this song in that same year as thousands of enthusiasts arose in support of Lord Beaconsfield's policy to send a British fleet to Turkey in support of Turkey's resistance to Russian aggression. After that incident, the word lingered on as a name for any highly enthusiastic political hawk. (Now it is time to thank the mysterious Klimt of the Alpha Agora in as unjingoesque a manner as possible for suggesting today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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