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[joh-ker] /ˈdʒoʊ kər/
a person who jokes.
one of two extra playing cards in a pack, usually imprinted with the figure of a jester, used in some games as the highest card or as a wild card.
U.S. Politics. a clause or expression inserted in a legislative bill with the unavowed object of defeating the ostensible purpose of the bill if passed.
a seemingly minor, unsuspected clause or wording that is put into an agreement, legal document, etc., to change its effect.
an unexpected or final fact, factor, or condition that changes or reverses a situation or result completely:
He gave her a beautiful diamond engagement ring, but the joker was that it was stolen!
any method, trick, or expedient for getting the better of another:
They pulled a joker on us to get better seats.
Informal. a man; fellow; chap:
That joker is earning twice as much as I am.
a person who thinks he or she is very funny; prankster:
Who's the joker who frosted the cake with shaving cream?
Informal. a wise guy; wiseacre; smart aleck:
Tell that joker to stop using my parking space.
Origin of joker
First recorded in 1720-30; joke + -er1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for joker
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But what strikes me here is that a joker should not have been satisfied with an ordinary Roman coin.

    The Book of the Damned Charles Fort
  • The joker dropped down from the branch almost on top of them.

    The Boy Scout Treasure Hunters Charles Henry Lerrigo
  • Come to think of it, what had this joker done with his clothes?

    The Best Made Plans Everett B. Cole
  • Albion was "consid'able of a joker," Mr. Peaslee reflected gloomily.

    The Calico Cat Charles Miner Thompson
  • Albion Small, who was "consid'able of a joker," suddenly choked.

    The Calico Cat Charles Miner Thompson
British Dictionary definitions for joker


a person who jokes, esp in an obnoxious manner
(slang, often derogatory) a person: who does that joker think he is?
an extra playing card in a pack, which in many card games can substitute for or rank above any other card
(mainly US) a clause or phrase inserted in a legislative bill in order to make the bill inoperative or to alter its apparent effect
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 joker

1729, "jester, merry fellow," agent noun from joke (v.). In generic slang use for "any man, fellow, chap" by 1811, which probably is the source of the meaning "odd face card in the deck" (1868). An 1857 edition of Hoyle's "Games" lists a card game called Black Joke in which all face cards were called jokers.

American manufacturers of playing-cards are wont to include a blank card at the top of the pack; and it is, alas! true that some thrifty person suggested that the card should not be wasted. This was the origin of the joker. ["St. James's Gazette," 1894]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for joker



  1. (also joker in the deck) A hidden cost, qualification, defect, nasty result, etc; catch: It all looks very sweet, but there's a joker (1904+)
  2. A man; fellow; guy, character, clown •Often derogatory: Ask that joker who the hell he thinks he is (1811+)

[first sense fr the joker card included in a new deck, which may be used as a trump or a wild card]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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