When I hear a brand new word, I try to guess its meaning. Sometimes, more often than I’d care to admit, the results are hilarious.
The first thing that popped into my brain on hearing jackleg? “Jackass.” Then, I think “bootleg.” After finding out the meaning I sort of see a connection between the three. Do you?
1. Lacking skill or training; incompetent. Used especially of lawyers or preachers.
2. Unscrupulous or dishonest.
3. Makeshift; temporary.
1. An unskilled or unscrupulous itinerant worker.
2. A strikebreaker.
The Oxford English Dictionary pegs the term as a US invention, dates its first appearance in print to 1850. It has been suggested that “jackleg” might be related to the 18th century British term “jack-a-legs,” meaning a simple folding knife with a broad, square blade of the sort used by unskilled carpenters who lacked sophisticated tools. In extended use, “jack-a-legs” appeared in the US as the adjective “jack-legged” or “jakeleg,” meaning “unskilled.”
SYNONYMS: primitive, self-taught; amateurish, dilettante, inexperienced, inexpert, unprofessional, unskilled; uninitiated, unprepared, unqualified, unschooled, untaught, untrained, untutored
From Urban Dictionary:
Half assed or unprofessional. Not authorized or done while drunk. Someone who does a jack-leg job is called a jack.
Usage: Look at that jack-leg job he did fixing the washing machine. The pipes aren’t even screwed in all the way.
Know a strange word? Let’s hear it.