1. a native or inhabitant of Kansas (used as a nickname).
  2. (sometimes lowercase) a plundering marauder, especially one of the antislavery guerrillas in Kansas, Missouri, and other border states before and during the Civil War.

Origin of Jayhawker

An Americanism dating back to 1855–60; of uncertain origin
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for jayhawker

Historical Examples of jayhawker

  • We hurried on as rapidly as possible so as to get into the Jayhawker's beaten trail which would be a little easier to follow.

    Death Valley in '49

    William Lewis Manly

  • The Jayhawker's train was made up of men from many states, but seemed well united and was as complete as when they first started.

    Death Valley in '49

    William Lewis Manly

  • The Jayhawker crowd seemed to think they could go anywhere and no difficulty could happen which they couldn't overcome.

    Death Valley in '49

    William Lewis Manly

  • Our friend and guide seemed to have been a jayhawker and mountain marauder—on the right side.

    On Horseback

    Charles Dudley Warner

  • Semi hastily retreated behind Mr. Colon, thinking it might be a Jayhawker, while the professor adjusted his glasses.

    Buffalo Land

    W. E. Webb

Word Origin and History for jayhawker

American English, 1858, originally "freebooter, guerrilla, Kansas irregular" (especially one who came from the North). Hence back-formed verb jayhawk "harass" (1866).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper