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noun (usually used with a plural verb) Chiefly Dialect.
  1. an outdoor privy; outhouse.
  2. a toilet or bedpan.

Origin of jakes

1525–35; < French Jacques, proper name; cf. john


  1. John,born 1932, U.S. novelist.


noun Slang.
  1. a homemade or bootleg liquor made from or infused with Jamaica ginger, especially during Prohibition in the U.S.
  2. Also called jake leg, jake-leg paralysis. paralysis caused by drinking this or other liquor made with denatured alcohol.

Origin of jake2

1925–30, Americanism; apparently alteration of Jamaica (ginger)


  1. a male given name, form of Jacob.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for jakes

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Nice lot of Hungry Jakes to feed with int'rest-bearin' securities!


    Sewell Ford

  • He was dead and cold, Jakes, and you may as well know it fust as last.

    Rosin the Beau

    Laura Elizabeth Howe Richards

  • To Jakes adoring eyes it was as the halo about the head of a patron saint.

    Deering of Deal

    Latta Griswold

  • But among them was not Mr. Jakes, though he needed a stimulus as much as any.


    R. D. Blackmore

  • "He knows a bit better than that," replied Jakes, smiling with dark significance.


    R. D. Blackmore

British Dictionary definitions for jakes


  1. an archaic slang word for lavatory
  2. Southwest English dialect human excrement

Word Origin

C16: probably from French Jacques James


adjective Australian and NZ slang
  1. satisfactory; all right
  2. she's jake everything is under control

Word Origin

probably from the name Jake
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

Word Origin and History for jakes


"a privy," mid-15c., genitive singular of jack (n.).


colloquial or familiar abbreviation of the masc. proper name Jacob (q.v.). As the typical name of a rustic lout, from 1854. (Jakey still is the typical name for "an Amishman" among the non-Amish of Pennsylvania Dutch country). Slang meaning "excellent, fine" is from 1914, American English, of unknown origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper