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View Full Version : Origin of the phrase "Jake" (NOT brakes)


Una Persson
05-07-2000, 11:21 AM
OK, I performed the search and could not find this topic covered earlier.

Would someone kindly know the origin of the word Jake being used as :

"That's Jake with me"

meaning, "that's alright with me". I've read it in a several noir books lately, and recently saw it in a movie lately too - I think The Big Sleep.

On a side note: I think [I]The Big Sleep[/I} as a novel was much better and easier to follow than the movie. Because the movie does not have Carmen as the killer, and there is no hint of the body in the oil well sump, the movie seems a little disjointed at the end. The movie was successful at one thing though. Having just finished reading the entirety of the works of Chandler, I couldn't help seeing Humphrey Bogart's face through all 2000+ pages.

Fyodor
05-07-2000, 12:51 PM
Ah the English language, one of my favorite themes. My reasonable guess on jake is it is nonsense association slang, like Cockney rhyming slang, meaning okay. It projects the kay sound clearly. You point out that it generally pops up in tough guy/noire venues, which I think is significant. Very generally speaking when you say "OK" you tend to slacken or move your jaw but you can say jake through clenched teeth. People can argue this so I'll explain my thinking behind this. A favourite trick of the Kray brothers, the famous London gangsters, was to offer a man a cigarette in a pub and bust his jaw when he slackened it to take the cigarette in his mouth. If someone is going to pop you in the chops it's best to keep your teeth clenched. So fictional tough guys say "everything's jake" and clench their jaws.

Hey, I know it's a stretch but I'm entitled to my theories. I wouldn't be surprised if Bogey was the first to use "everything's jake".

Gilligan
05-07-2000, 01:32 PM
I don't have the answer, but I found this interesting: I asked a recent question about a phrase origin, and Alphagene pointed me toward a great etymological resource, The Word Detective (http://word-detective.com/index.html) I thought your answer might be here, but it wasn't. But they did have an explanation of "jake brakes", which gives as its source, none other than the Straight Dope itself. From the Word Detective:

"I came across a very lucid explanation of "jake brakes" on The Straight Dope web page (straightdope.com), which is just chock-full of lucid explanations of stuff like this, incidentally."

The Word Detective also has a good article on "GRY", for those poor souls interested.

funneefarmer
05-07-2000, 02:25 PM
Well if you aim for the etymology of the name itself Jake is a form of Jack which is a form of Jacob. Now is there a loose connection between supplanter and allright ? It would be a stretch but 'I'm allright because I'm riding someone else's coatails' ? Perhaps 'hold the heel' could be interpreted as status quo or allright ? Just a couple of WAGs to throw into the mix.

From
Behind the name (http://behindthename.com/j.html)
"JACOB (m) "to hold the heel" or "supplanter" from the Hebrew name Yaakov. The biblical Jacob (later called Israel) was born holding his twin brother Esau's heel. He was the son of Isaac and Rebecca and the father of the twelve founders of the twelve tribes of Israel."

From Merriam-Webster (http://m-w.com/)

"Main Entry: supĚplant
Pronunciation: s&-'plant
Function: transitive verb
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French supplanter, from Latin supplantare to overthrow by tripping up, from sub- + planta sole of the foot -- more at PLACE
Date: 14th century
1 : to supersede (another) especially by force or treachery
2 a (1) obsolete : UPROOT (2) : to eradicate and supply a substitute for <efforts to supplant the vernacular> b : to take the place of and serve as a substitute for especially by reason of superior excellence or power
synonym see REPLACE
- supĚplanĚtaĚtion /(")s&-"plan-'tA-sh&n/ noun
- supĚplantĚer /s&-'plan-t&r/ noun "

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
05-07-2000, 03:17 PM
I have nothing to offer for the etymology.

I'll just add that back in the early 80s, there was a song called "Just Got Lucky," which had a line something like "I'm feeling Jake."

Never understood what it meant, since that was the only time I'd ever heard it used.

It makes a little more sense, now.

Una Persson
05-07-2000, 03:54 PM
I have nothing to offer for the etymology.

I'll just add that back in the early 80s, there was a song called "Just Got Lucky," which had a line something like "I'm feeling Jake."

Never understood what it meant, since that was the only time I'd ever heard it used.

It makes a little more sense, now.


Yes! By the Joboxers - I just heard that today in fact, and that was what actually prompted my question!

Amazing synchronicity.

funneefarmer
05-07-2000, 05:22 PM
I forgot to add this to my post above, from the same Merriam-Webster online dictionary. It claims 1914 as the earliest use.

"Main Entry: jake
Pronunciation: 'jAk
Function: adjective
Etymology: origin unknown
Date: 1914
slang : ALL RIGHT, FINE"

JillGat
05-07-2000, 05:34 PM
[]

I'll have you know that [i]I wrote that Jake Brakes piece as a mailbag column for the Straight Dope!

In Jamaica, "Jake" is a term for "white person."

Una Persson
05-07-2000, 06:47 PM
I forgot to add this to my post above, from the same Merriam-Webster online dictionary. It claims 1914 as the earliest use.

"Main Entry: jake
Pronunciation: 'jAk
Function: adjective
Etymology: origin unknown
Date: 1914
slang : ALL RIGHT, FINE"


Thanks farmer. Wow, that's older than I thought.

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