Definition of jackanapes in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈdʒakəneɪps/


1 dated A cheeky or impertinent person.
Example sentences
  • I was at school with a Bruno, and as the grinning jackanapes sat at his piano and segued effortlessly from Bach to the Beatles and back again via Satie, nobody queued up to congratulate him; they simply wanted to beat him up.
  • The grinning jackanapes in Number 10 must not be allowed to extinguish Britain's liberties: he and the Great Uncleanness that is New Labour must be evicted from power.
  • The grinning jackanapes who has so arbitrarily dismantled the constitution is now half mad with power.
2 archaic A tame monkey.
Example sentences
  • In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, one Peter Palmer, of Lincoln's Inn, brought an action against a barrister of the name of Boyer, for having, with the intention to injure him in his name and practice, said, 'Peter Palmer is a paltry lawyer, and hath as much law as a jackanapes.'


Early 16th century (originally as Jack Napes): perhaps from a playful name for a tame ape, the initial n- by elision of an ape (compare with newt), and the final -s as in surnames such as Hobbes: applied to a person whose behaviour resembled that of an ape.

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