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  1. any of several noisy, vivacious birds of the crow family, subfamily Garrulinae, as the crested Garrulus glandarius, of the Old World, having brownish plumage with blue, black, and white barring on the wings.Compare blue jay, gray jay.
  2. Informal. a simpleminded or gullible person.

Origin of jay1

1275–35; Middle English jai < Middle French < Late Latin gāius, gāia, perhaps after Latin Gāius man's name


noun Slang.
  1. a marijuana cigarette.

Origin of jay2

1970–75; probably spelling of initial consonant of joint, perhaps suggested by Pig Latin version ointjay


  1. John,1745–1829, U.S. statesman and jurist: first chief justice of the U.S. 1789–95.
  2. a male given name.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for jay


  1. any of various passerine birds of the family Corvidae (crows), esp the Eurasian Garrulus glandarius, with a pinkish-brown body, blue-and-black wings, and a black-and-white crestSee also blue jay
  2. a foolish or gullible person

Word Origin

C13: from Old French jai, from Late Latin gāius, perhaps from proper name Gāius


  1. John 1745–1829, American statesman, jurist, and diplomat; first chief justice of the Supreme Court (1789–95). He negotiated the treaty with Great Britain (Jay's treaty, 1794), that settled outstanding disputes
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 jay


c.1300, common European bird (Garrulus glandarinus), from Old North French gai, Old French jai "magpie, jay," from Late Latin gaius "a jay," probably echoic and supposedly influenced by Latin Gaius, a common Roman proper name. For other bird names from proper names, cf. martin and parrot. Applied to the North American blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata) from 1709. Applied to humans in sense of "impertinent chatterer, flashy dresser" from 1620s.


"fourth-rate, worthless" (e.g. a jay town), 1888, American English, apparently from some disparaging sense of jay (n.). Perhaps from a decaying or ironical use of jay "flashy dresser."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper