Origin of joker

First recorded in 1720–30; joke + -er1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for joker

Contemporary Examples of joker

Historical Examples of joker

  • But what strikes me here is that a joker should not have been satisfied with an ordinary Roman coin.

  • 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 personwho 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

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