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90s Slang You Should Know


or jack-in-a-box

[jak-in-th uh-boks] /ˈdʒæk ɪn ðəˌbɒks/
noun, plural jack-in-the-boxes.
a toy consisting of a box from which an enclosed figure springs up when the lid is opened.
Origin of jack-in-the-box
First recorded in 1545-55 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for jack-in-the-box
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The man of the mechanists would be as funny as a jack-in-the-box.

    Major Prophets of To-Day Edwin E. Slosson
  • My man on the bed popped with the agility of a jack-in-the-box for the window.

    Desert Dust Edwin L. Sabin
  • jack-in-the-box lent him books, and each day a fresh bouquet was sent in by Miss Glidden.

    Phaeton Rogers Rossiter Johnson
  • The removal of the burden was almost like unsnapping the cover of a jack-in-the-box.

    Elsie Marley, Honey Joslyn Gray
  • He was a kindly old man, with a face like a walnut shell, and white hair and beard like a jack-in-the-box.

    The Wouldbegoods E. Nesbit
  • My rival, closing his window, had disappeared like a jack-in-the-box.

  • Out from it, like a jack-in-the-box, leaped a little yellow man with long ears.

    Hour of Enchantment Roy J. Snell
  • Released, Bixton shot up from his cot like a jack-in-the-box.

  • As we neared the railway crossing, jack-in-the-box was half way up the signal-pole.

    Phaeton Rogers Rossiter Johnson
British Dictionary definitions for jack-in-the-box


noun (pl) jack-in-the-boxes, jacks-in-the-box
a toy consisting of a figure on a compressed spring in a box, which springs out when the lid is opened
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for jack-in-the-box

1560s, originally a name for a sharp or cheat, "who deceived tradesmen by substituting empty boxes for others full of money" [Robert Nares, "A Glossary of Words, Phrases, Names, and Allusions," London, 1905]. As a type of toy, it is attested from 1702.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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