Dictionary.com

Jack and Jill, the beanstalk, the candlestick. What is the meaning behind "Jack" in every fairy tale?

Since Jack went up the hill with Jill, Jack jumped over the candlestick, and climbed the beanstalk (to name just a few of his exploits,) he must be wiped out. Think about the classic fairy tales, folktales, and children’s stories. Doesn’t it seem like a disproportionate number of them contain a hero named Jack? Is this just a coincidence?

In fact, many of these stories come from a collection of English folk tales about a character named Jack. These stories are called the Jack tales.

The name Jack has a complex origin. While it is used as a diminutive of Jacob, it also derives from the Old English Jan (“John”) and the Germanic Jankin (“kin of John.”)  The “Jan” names exist independently of the French Jacques. All of these paths combine to make Jack such a common name that English speakers once used it to refer any male (not necessarily in a complimentary manner.) Jack remains one of the most popular first names in the English speaking world.

Essentially, “Jack” in tales serves as kind of shorthand for “guy.” “The Dude” from “The Big Lebowski” could probably relate to Jack.

(Another prominent Jack is the Jack O’ Lantern. Learn the identity of this Jack, as well as the creepy story behind the custom, here.)

The two most well known of the Jack tales are probably “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “Jack the Giant Killer.”
 
In “Jack and the Beanstalk,” Jack sells his poor mother’s cow for a handful of magical beans. This infuriates her, and she tosses the beans into the garden. They grow into a thick stalk that climbs into the sky. Jack proceeds to climb the stalk, find the land of a giant, and steal from him. The giant pursues Jack. But the boy is able to scurry down the stalk fast enough to chop it down and send the giant to his death.
 
Then there’s “Jack, the Giant Killer,” which tells the story of a brave and clever farmer’s son who kills several giants with names like Cormoran and Blunderbore.
 
The Jack tales were first put into print in the 18th century.
 
The tales eventually made their way from England to the Appalachian region in the United States where they were adopted to fit the culture and became part of a rich oral tradition. While the setting may have changed, the stories remain remarkably the same, candlesticks, beanstalks and all.

On the topic of names in strange places, who is the Joe in the coffee phrase “cup O’ Joe?” We tackle that one, here.

HARVARD VANGUARD CEO SET TO DEPART PAULUS WILL LEAD HOSPITAL NETWORK IN MINNESOTA

The Boston Globe (Boston, MA) September 2, 2005 | Christopher Rowland, Globe Staff The Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates chief executive who engineered its merger with four other physician group practices is leaving to head a large hospital network in Minnesota.

Kenneth Paulus, 46, will actually vacate two posts chief executive of Harvard Vanguard and chief executive of HealthOne Care System.

HealthOne is the nonprofit network of physician groups Paulus helped create in 2004 through the merger of Harvard Vanguard which has about 500 doctors with Dedham Medical Associates, South Shore Medical Center, and Southboro Medical Group. here south shore medical center

The resulting organization has more than 700 doctors who care for 500,000 patients, making it the second-largest physicians group in the state and giving it considerable bargaining clout with insurance companies.

Plans are underway for an $8.5 million expansion of Harvard Vanguard’s electronic medical records system into HealthOne’s smaller physician groups, and a branding and marketing campaign aimed at Massachusetts residents. The network also is geared for further growth. Another physicians practice, Granite Medical Group, joined HealthOne this year and executives are in discussions with other prospective members.

“HealthOne was Ken’s vision. It exists because of his dogged determination,” said Eugene Wallace, Harvard Vanguard’s chief financial officer, who will serve as acting chief executive while a search for a permanent replacement is conducted.

When Paulus arrived at Harvard Vanguard in 2000, the group was facing a potential crisis. Two years earlier, it had severed a link with its former HMO affiliate, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. But 93 percent of the group’s patients were still insured by Harvard Pilgrim, which had slipped into state receivership because of financial problems. see here south shore medical center

“When he first came in, our first priority was staying in business,” said Dr. Gene Lindsey, a cardiologist and chairman of the Harvard Vanguard board.

Paulus was well-positioned to lead the group. He had deep connections in the Boston healthcare market from his previous job as chief executive of Partners Community HealthCare Inc., the state’s largest physician group with about 1,000 internists and 3,500 specialists.

“He made Harvard Vanguard a very high-performing group, with high member satisfaction, good outcomes, and great levels of efficiency,” said his former boss, former Partners Community HealthCare chief executive Ellen Zane, who is now chief executive at Tufts-New England Medical Center. His departure, she said, “is a loss for Boston.” Paulus has accepted a job as chief operating officer of Allina Hospitals & Clinics, a nonprofit network of 11 hospitals, and more than 50 clinics operating throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Christopher Rowland can be reached at crowland@globe.com.

Christopher Rowland, Globe Staff

84 Comments

  1. Friday After NaNo Began | MCAH Online -  November 2, 2012 - 5:14 am

    [...] (who writes fantastic historical romances) talks about the Germanic tradition of elves. • Jack and Jill, the Beanstalk, the Candle Stick. Who is “Jack” in all these fairy [...]

    Reply
  2. bad boy -  February 23, 2012 - 2:39 am

    The Jack Tales were collected by a man named Richard Chase and are still in print many years later. He traveled the US & got as many of them as he could and put them in a collection.
    http://www.amazon.com/Jack-Tales-Richard-Chase/dp/0618346929
    Emily on January 7, 2011 at 12:56 pm
    Jack is a wonderful name!
    DougN on January 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm
    The article says, “They grow into a thick stalk that descends into the sky.”
    If the beans were planted in the ground and the stalk went from the ground up to the clouds, wouldn’t the stalk “ascend” into the sky?
    rhaf on January 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm
    just like also the story of titanic.
    Mr. D [A.K.A] Elysian on January 7, 2011 at 1:17 pm
    Don’t care to much for the name Jack lol..
    Saf on January 7, 2011 at 1:24 pm
    Sixteen String Jack, Jack the Ripper, Jack in the Green, Jack-in-the-box, Jack of Diamonds, Jack Daniels, Monterey Jack, Crackerjack, Union Jack, Applejack, Electrical Jack, Jackhammer, Jack-of-all-Trades, wait… why am I listing these?
    Anyway, I think there’s a typo in the line, “They grow into a thick stalk that descends into the sky.”
    ~Saf
    Grammar Freak on January 7, 2011 at 1:42 pm
    Isn’t it “ascends into the sky?” Rather than, “descends into the sky?” :]
    Do you guys do this on purpose so we can enhance our grammar/spelling? xD
    Cocoa on January 7, 2011 at 1:49 pm
    Jan Jacob Jankin Heimer Schmidt?
    Marx Lenn Mendoza on January 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm
    oh, i didn’t know that…this article got a point on that….jack was really famous…ahh…
    Mark V on January 7, 2011 at 2:06 pm
    Hijack, hit the road Jack, jackknife, Jack in, Doing Jack-all, Hijack
    Deidre Christiansen on January 7, 2011 at 2:40 pm
    Fables, a comic written by Bill Willingham, plays with a theory that a character’s strength is tied to the popularity of his or her stories. Thus, Jack’s adventures across the continents make him the kind of guy who keeps coming back after each colossal fail. Much to the chagrin of all the other characters.
    CapnZilog on January 7, 2011 at 3:15 pm
    Jack In The Box…
    triplem on January 7, 2011 at 3:58 pm
    BLACK JACK MARK V
    Jack Cervantes on January 7, 2011 at 4:25 pm
    My name is Jack Cervantes and I approve of this Hot Word Blog.
    ag on January 7, 2011 at 4:37 pm
    jack sparrow? jack black? jack nicholson? jumpin jack? lojack? jackaroo? what else? we also have our own jack his name is juan.. he actually ordered crabs to bring the groceries home from the market thats how clever he is nyahahaha
    Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry on January 7, 2011 at 4:54 pm
    Probably from, chaque, every, chacun, each one, prefixed T-or-D, Jacques, The every man….
    The suffix, -ec, may also be, you-male, like in Marduk, Mered-you-the-man.
    (Fun but really, maybe.)
    Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry on January 7, 2011 at 4:55 pm
    Probably from, chaque, every, chacun, each one, prefixed T-or-D, Jacques, The every man….
    The suffix, -ec, may also be, you-male, like in Marduk, Mered-you-the-man.
    (Fun but really, maybe.)
    And then there’s the famous phrase: You don’t know Jack (every one).
    Angelina L on January 7, 2011 at 4:59 pm
    Interesting! There’s a children’s book called the Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman which plays on the name Jack (and is also, by the way, really good), so I guess certain other people have noticed as well!
    Olivia on January 7, 2011 at 5:40 pm
    It never occured to me that so many nursury rhymes and fairy tales included the name Jack! Cool!
    Mary LeeTaylor on January 7, 2011 at 6:11 pm
    My favorite Jack of all….JACK NICHOLSON!!!!!
    Australian Warlord on January 7, 2011 at 6:16 pm
    Who cares about one grammar mistake. It’s not important for the function of the article, which is discussing the history of the name Jack in fairy tales.
    And I’m not a fan of the name either.
    Scooby-D on January 7, 2011 at 7:46 pm
    Cool.didn’t know that. i learn some thing new every day from dictionary.com. you should write a hot blog on Greek Mythology and the Greek Gods
    MsKB on January 7, 2011 at 9:15 pm
    Certainly, Jack is not just any Tom, Dick, or Harry!
    my name is jack on January 7, 2011 at 9:27 pm
    lol my anme is jack.=Þ
    Jack on January 7, 2011 at 9:31 pm
    Did someone call me?
    Cyberquill on January 7, 2011 at 10:23 pm
    to candlejack: to steal candles
    Cyberquill on January 7, 2011 at 10:24 pm
    to canlestickjack: to steal candlesticks
    Angelina Jolie on January 7, 2011 at 10:36 pm
    I should name my next adopted child Jack!
    Mario D’Cruz on January 7, 2011 at 11:36 pm
    Jack is an Anglo-Irish diminutive of the English name John but also James which in the following languages takes the form given beside it: Italian-Giacomo Latin/Older English-Jacob (as in the Jacobite revolution involving King James II), French-Jacques/Iago Spanish-Diago,Tiago,Diego (as in the places named after St James i.e. San Diego & Santiago) all of which are versions of the Arabic/Semitic root name:Yakub,Salman, Suleiman/Solomon and even more confusingly the root name of Hyman/Hymie & Jaime. Issues involving the origins and relationships of names have and are becoming increasingly confusing because of multiple translations, personal preferences and colloquial variations as well as spelling mistakes (San Diego in California should actually be San Diago because San Diego translated directly would mean St God in English, when it should actually mean St James.
    For those wondering, I do have a life, such matters only comprising a very small part of my preoccupations, my apologies if I have come across as overly pedantic over semantics.
    Mario
    Pedantic Guy on January 8, 2011 at 12:04 am
    Hah! Nice try Hotword. I see you “corrected” your first typo by replacing “descend” with “climb.” But unfortunately, this corrigendum just won’t cut it. Beanstalks, or any other plant for that matter, don’t “climb” into the sky either; they simply “grow.”
    @Australian Warlord: With all due respect, this is Dictionary.com; not the Discovery channel. These articles are written with a view to improving both our vocabulary and grammar, and ergo, it is well within our purview to not only notice these typos, but to also suggest suitable corrections. And apropos, I’m glad to note that you are probably from Australia, and not JACKsonville, Florida, since you obviously disdain the name. Good for you!
    Wayway on January 8, 2011 at 1:19 am
    Like a limber-Jack
    Wayway on January 8, 2011 at 1:20 am
    *Lumber
    The Cloner on January 8, 2011 at 3:15 am
    There’s another jack in a slang phrase that describes what teenaged boys do a lot, but I won’t spell it out here.
    Hannah on January 8, 2011 at 3:49 am
    That’s interesting – I never thought of that before. There IS a lot of Jack stories…
    hoity-poity on January 8, 2011 at 4:28 am
    Jack beats you to the punch. Being lovable is a key to the future.
    kemi olabode on January 8, 2011 at 4:37 am
    Jack sure is popular. Could u pls let’s talk about jill pls
    Arthur Ee on January 8, 2011 at 5:14 am
    As mutch as English speakers once used it to refer any male (not necessarily in a complimentary manner.) as “Jack”, all Americans from the US are refered to as Yankees.
    This originates from the Dutch from Nieuw Amsterdam, traded in with the English in the second Dutch war (“Engels oorlog” in Dutch)for Surinam. From then on Nieuw Amsterdam became New York, but at first a great deal of it’s citizens were still Dutch, who had Dutch names like “Jan” (The Dutch but also the Czecks didn’t change the “Old English” name Jan into John or Jack)and “Kees”, and those two names are refered to when you call an American citizen a Yankee.
    JOCKER on January 8, 2011 at 5:20 am
    JACK IS SO COMMON IT UNCOMMON
    i’m a jack of all traits master of none yet in off times better than a master of one
    MOOT on January 8, 2011 at 6:38 am
    Why then is it not Jack Doe?
    Ruth on January 8, 2011 at 6:47 am
    This also explains the “Jack of all trades.”
    Ole TBoy on January 8, 2011 at 6:51 am
    In Oscar Wilde’s, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, Gwendolyn rejects the name Jack for a suitor, saying, “Jack is a notorious domesticity for John and I pity any woman married to a man named John.”
    Your article notes: ” in the United States where they were adopted to fit the culture…” Would not “adapted” be a better choice, meaning “altered to suit American tastes”? Of course, we did also “adopt”, i. e. ,” take them as our own.”
    David on January 8, 2011 at 7:35 am
    My Dad’s name was Jack and I was always curious about it. It wasn’t short for any other name. We were told that Jewish people did not name their male sons John (for some unknown reason). I always thought that Jack was a nickname for John. Thus, my curiousity. I’ve always loved the name Jack.
    Bob Beazley on January 8, 2011 at 9:15 am
    Hello Grammar Freak: If we’re going to split grammatical hairs, shouldn’t we be equally concerned with getting the question marks on the correct side of the quotation marks?
    I’m just sayin’…
    Pinki on January 8, 2011 at 9:30 am
    Wow, I never thought of that in that way! And I think they changed the part where it said that the beanstalk descended. It now says “They grow into a thick stalk that climbs into the sky.” Lol…..:)
    Beth on January 8, 2011 at 9:54 am
    Jack the Ripper. Or was that his real first name?
    Ryan Howe on January 8, 2011 at 10:46 am
    Jack Sprat could eat no fat,
    His wife could eat no lean,
    And so between them both,
    They licked their platters clean.
    jmg469 on January 8, 2011 at 11:04 am
    Jack Black should eat no fat…
    JfromI on January 8, 2011 at 11:17 am
    I am related to at least two Jacks that I know of. I think it’s a great name. I have heard, though, that it’s a form of Jacob but also John. Why do people named John go by Jack? Seems weird, like a Margaret using the nickname Peggy.
    Stud Muffin on January 8, 2011 at 11:34 am
    Flapjack or jackpot?
    tp on January 8, 2011 at 11:49 am
    Jack Bauer!
    Ann on January 8, 2011 at 11:54 am
    Mistake apparently fixed- now says “climbs into the sky” instead of either descends or ascends! Good to test our editing eye, and to keep everyone on their toes, I say.
    jack freak on January 8, 2011 at 12:28 pm
    tom,dick,ahd harry are from the great escape!
    paula on January 8, 2011 at 12:55 pm
    so does jack off have anything to do with this?
    Anonymous on January 8, 2011 at 1:50 pm
    FLAPJACKS!!!!!!!
    emanuel on January 8, 2011 at 1:58 pm
    Jack was a dude of all trades, like in jack-of-all-trades. We do like jack-in-the-pulpit, and we still use jack-o-lanterns at Halloween. What would the world do if there was no jack? And so forth.
    Aislinn on January 8, 2011 at 3:34 pm
    Well, back in Shakespeare times, doesn’t the saying “jack” just mean common man?
    tim on January 8, 2011 at 3:35 pm
    springheeled jack
    bholland on January 8, 2011 at 4:01 pm
    …and there’s always the “jackass.”
    A new usage that has appeared on TV of late: The Geico commercial about whether drill sergeants make good therapists. He refers to his patient as a “jack-wagon.” Interesting!
    Aurora on January 8, 2011 at 4:31 pm
    All’s settled, then. His name shall be Jack.
    Inujo on January 8, 2011 at 5:03 pm
    Jumping Jack Flash.. I hear he’s a gas!
    I always thought Jack and Jill was a story of some failed monarchy.
    Elaine on January 8, 2011 at 5:32 pm
    Also part of the trickster tale genre. In Africa it’s Anasi the spider, in the American South Br’er Rabbit, in other cultures other characters that have the cunning to escape from tricky, threatening circumstances.
    eish. on January 8, 2011 at 6:14 pm
    then of course we have the infamous…
    Jacking off
    Bygman on January 8, 2011 at 7:21 pm
    Yo’ Jack, that’s some interesting info.
    hitwest on January 8, 2011 at 7:41 pm
    I like Jack way better than Jamal.
    Curly on January 9, 2011 at 9:22 am
    @Pedantic Guy:
    I’m pedantic, too, but I have no problem with Dictionary.com using “climb” that way. It’s a figure of speech.
    David on January 10, 2011 at 7:13 am
    A Jackass is a male donkey, a Jenny (or jennyass) a female.
    Got the Season 1 boxed set of DVDs for the TV show LOST for Christmas, so naturally I’m thinking Jack Shephard
    ms.karma on January 11, 2011 at 1:49 am
    jack and sally?
    john rhea on January 16, 2011 at 6:49 am
    Why do people feel the need to repeat items over and over? We saw the first comment regarding “ascend”, how many times must it appear? Looking For some Approval that you caught the mistake as well? Quit being a JACK-OFF.
    Kcaj on January 21, 2011 at 11:50 am
    pepper Jack….Kojack….hiJack…carJack…Jack for your car….the name Jack and all that rhymes with leave endless possiblites…my brothers name is Jack….i tease him endlessly its too much fun!!!!
    Timothy on December 26, 2011 at 3:30 pm
    Jack in the pulpit; why not?
    Donteatacowman on December 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm
    And of course “This Is the House That Jack Built.”
    Margie on December 27, 2011 at 12:43 pm
    “Jack and Diane,” John Mellencamp, 1982
    Ardyth on December 28, 2011 at 8:08 pm
    My dad, James, and my Uncle Jack built our house. I loved being able to say “I live in the house that Jack built.”
    Captain Quirk on December 28, 2011 at 11:40 pm
    Ah, yes…two American kids doin’ the best that they can….
    (That really take me back to my teen years!)
    Anyway, I used to know a guy named Jack who lived in an apartment in Santa Monica with two attractive young women. Always getting into crazy situations and misunderstandings. Was a good cook, though.
    Elise E. on December 29, 2011 at 6:00 am
    I’m starting to think you people can’t read because the passage clearly says: “They grow into a thick stalk that CLIMBS into the sky.”
    not decends.
    Smith Webb on December 30, 2011 at 2:07 am
    You don’t know JACK……then again, maybe you do
    Smith Webb on December 30, 2011 at 2:08 am
    You don’t know JACK……….then again, maybe you do.
    Tracy on January 1, 2012 at 7:51 pm
    Jack probably IS a good name, but all the ‘Jack’ s I know are either just annoying or plain stupid.
    Cat on January 2, 2012 at 12:20 am
    Hit the road, Jack! And don’t you come back …. Unless bearing fresh, hot flapjacks and a cup o’ joe!
    Vicaari on January 9, 2012 at 1:43 pm
    The multitasking Jack of diverse rhymes and Jack of all trades… is there any similarity! Where to find that out?
    Thanks.
    Juan on January 16, 2012 at 2:49 am
    So Jon Voight could also be referred to as Jack Voight then?
    Jon on January 16, 2012 at 2:50 am
    Sure could. Just make sure that you don’t call me John with an “h”.

    Read more at http://hotword.dictionary.com/jack/#eGl8sEoMzzhyvO2Y.99

    Reply
  3. Jon -  January 16, 2012 - 2:50 am

    Sure could. Just make sure that you don’t call me John with an “h”.

    Reply
  4. Juan -  January 16, 2012 - 2:49 am

    So Jon Voight could also be referred to as Jack Voight then?

    Reply
  5. Vicaari -  January 9, 2012 - 1:43 pm

    The multitasking Jack of diverse rhymes and Jack of all trades… is there any similarity! Where to find that out?
    Thanks.

    Reply
  6. Cat -  January 2, 2012 - 12:20 am

    Hit the road, Jack! And don’t you come back …. Unless bearing fresh, hot flapjacks and a cup o’ joe!

    Reply
  7. Tracy -  January 1, 2012 - 7:51 pm

    Jack probably IS a good name, but all the ‘Jack’ s I know are either just annoying or plain stupid.

    Reply
  8. Smith Webb -  December 30, 2011 - 2:08 am

    You don’t know JACK……….then again, maybe you do.

    Reply
  9. Smith Webb -  December 30, 2011 - 2:07 am

    You don’t know JACK……then again, maybe you do

    Reply
  10. Elise E. -  December 29, 2011 - 6:00 am

    I’m starting to think you people can’t read because the passage clearly says: “They grow into a thick stalk that CLIMBS into the sky.”
    not decends. :)

    Reply
  11. Captain Quirk -  December 28, 2011 - 11:40 pm

    Ah, yes…two American kids doin’ the best that they can….

    (That really take me back to my teen years!)

    Anyway, I used to know a guy named Jack who lived in an apartment in Santa Monica with two attractive young women. Always getting into crazy situations and misunderstandings. Was a good cook, though.

    Reply
  12. Ardyth -  December 28, 2011 - 8:08 pm

    My dad, James, and my Uncle Jack built our house. I loved being able to say “I live in the house that Jack built.”

    Reply
  13. Margie -  December 27, 2011 - 12:43 pm

    “Jack and Diane,” John Mellencamp, 1982

    Reply
  14. Donteatacowman -  December 26, 2011 - 4:21 pm

    And of course “This Is the House That Jack Built.”

    Reply
  15. Timothy -  December 26, 2011 - 3:30 pm

    Jack in the pulpit; why not?

    Reply
  16. Kcaj -  January 21, 2011 - 11:50 am

    pepper Jack….Kojack….hiJack…carJack…Jack for your car….the name Jack and all that rhymes with leave endless possiblites…my brothers name is Jack….i tease him endlessly its too much fun!!!!

    Reply
  17. john rhea -  January 16, 2011 - 6:49 am

    Why do people feel the need to repeat items over and over? We saw the first comment regarding “ascend”, how many times must it appear? Looking For some Approval that you caught the mistake as well? Quit being a JACK-OFF.

    Reply
  18. ms.karma -  January 11, 2011 - 1:49 am

    jack and sally?

    Reply
  19. David -  January 10, 2011 - 7:13 am

    A Jackass is a male donkey, a Jenny (or jennyass) a female.

    Got the Season 1 boxed set of DVDs for the TV show LOST for Christmas, so naturally I’m thinking Jack Shephard

    Reply
  20. Curly -  January 9, 2011 - 9:22 am

    @Pedantic Guy:

    I’m pedantic, too, but I have no problem with Dictionary.com using “climb” that way. It’s a figure of speech.

    Reply
  21. hitwest -  January 8, 2011 - 7:41 pm

    I like Jack way better than Jamal.

    Reply
  22. Bygman -  January 8, 2011 - 7:21 pm

    Yo’ Jack, that’s some interesting info.

    Reply
  23. eish. -  January 8, 2011 - 6:14 pm

    then of course we have the infamous…

    Jacking off :D

    Reply
  24. Elaine -  January 8, 2011 - 5:32 pm

    Also part of the trickster tale genre. In Africa it’s Anasi the spider, in the American South Br’er Rabbit, in other cultures other characters that have the cunning to escape from tricky, threatening circumstances.

    Reply
  25. Inujo -  January 8, 2011 - 5:03 pm

    Jumping Jack Flash.. I hear he’s a gas!
    I always thought Jack and Jill was a story of some failed monarchy.

    Reply
  26. Aurora -  January 8, 2011 - 4:31 pm

    All’s settled, then. His name shall be Jack.

    Reply
  27. bholland -  January 8, 2011 - 4:01 pm

    …and there’s always the “jackass.”

    A new usage that has appeared on TV of late: The Geico commercial about whether drill sergeants make good therapists. He refers to his patient as a “jack-wagon.” Interesting!

    Reply
  28. tim -  January 8, 2011 - 3:35 pm

    springheeled jack

    Reply
  29. Aislinn -  January 8, 2011 - 3:34 pm

    Well, back in Shakespeare times, doesn’t the saying “jack” just mean common man?

    Reply
  30. emanuel -  January 8, 2011 - 1:58 pm

    Jack was a dude of all trades, like in jack-of-all-trades. We do like jack-in-the-pulpit, and we still use jack-o-lanterns at Halloween. What would the world do if there was no jack? And so forth.

    Reply
  31. Anonymous -  January 8, 2011 - 1:50 pm

    FLAPJACKS!!!!!!!

    Reply
  32. paula -  January 8, 2011 - 12:55 pm

    so does jack off have anything to do with this?

    Reply
  33. jack freak -  January 8, 2011 - 12:28 pm

    tom,dick,ahd harry are from the great escape!

    Reply
  34. Ann -  January 8, 2011 - 11:54 am

    Mistake apparently fixed- now says “climbs into the sky” instead of either descends or ascends! Good to test our editing eye, and to keep everyone on their toes, I say.

    Reply
  35. tp -  January 8, 2011 - 11:49 am

    Jack Bauer!

    Reply
  36. Stud Muffin -  January 8, 2011 - 11:34 am

    Flapjack or jackpot?

    Reply
  37. JfromI -  January 8, 2011 - 11:17 am

    I am related to at least two Jacks that I know of. I think it’s a great name. I have heard, though, that it’s a form of Jacob but also John. Why do people named John go by Jack? Seems weird, like a Margaret using the nickname Peggy.

    Reply
  38. jmg469 -  January 8, 2011 - 11:04 am

    Jack Black should eat no fat…

    Reply
  39. Ryan Howe -  January 8, 2011 - 10:46 am

    Jack Sprat could eat no fat,
    His wife could eat no lean,
    And so between them both,
    They licked their platters clean.

    Reply
  40. Beth -  January 8, 2011 - 9:54 am

    Jack the Ripper. Or was that his real first name?

    Reply
  41. Pinki -  January 8, 2011 - 9:30 am

    Wow, I never thought of that in that way! And I think they changed the part where it said that the beanstalk descended. It now says “They grow into a thick stalk that climbs into the sky.” Lol…..:)

    Reply
  42. Bob Beazley -  January 8, 2011 - 9:15 am

    Hello Grammar Freak: If we’re going to split grammatical hairs, shouldn’t we be equally concerned with getting the question marks on the correct side of the quotation marks?

    I’m just sayin’…

    Reply
  43. David -  January 8, 2011 - 7:35 am

    My Dad’s name was Jack and I was always curious about it. It wasn’t short for any other name. We were told that Jewish people did not name their male sons John (for some unknown reason). I always thought that Jack was a nickname for John. Thus, my curiousity. I’ve always loved the name Jack.

    Reply
  44. Ole TBoy -  January 8, 2011 - 6:51 am

    In Oscar Wilde’s, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, Gwendolyn rejects the name Jack for a suitor, saying, “Jack is a notorious domesticity for John and I pity any woman married to a man named John.”

    Your article notes: ” in the United States where they were adopted to fit the culture…” Would not “adapted” be a better choice, meaning “altered to suit American tastes”? Of course, we did also “adopt”, i. e. ,” take them as our own.”

    Reply
  45. Ruth -  January 8, 2011 - 6:47 am

    This also explains the “Jack of all trades.”

    Reply
  46. MOOT -  January 8, 2011 - 6:38 am

    Why then is it not Jack Doe?

    Reply
  47. JOCKER -  January 8, 2011 - 5:20 am

    JACK IS SO COMMON IT UNCOMMON

    i’m a jack of all traits master of none yet in off times better than a master of one

    Reply
  48. Arthur Ee -  January 8, 2011 - 5:14 am

    As mutch as English speakers once used it to refer any male (not necessarily in a complimentary manner.) as “Jack”, all Americans from the US are refered to as Yankees.
    This originates from the Dutch from Nieuw Amsterdam, traded in with the English in the second Dutch war (“Engels oorlog” in Dutch)for Surinam. From then on Nieuw Amsterdam became New York, but at first a great deal of it’s citizens were still Dutch, who had Dutch names like “Jan” (The Dutch but also the Czecks didn’t change the “Old English” name Jan into John or Jack)and “Kees”, and those two names are refered to when you call an American citizen a Yankee.

    Reply
  49. kemi olabode -  January 8, 2011 - 4:37 am

    Jack sure is popular. Could u pls let’s talk about jill pls

    Reply
  50. hoity-poity -  January 8, 2011 - 4:28 am

    Jack beats you to the punch. Being lovable is a key to the future.

    Reply
  51. Hannah -  January 8, 2011 - 3:49 am

    That’s interesting – I never thought of that before. There IS a lot of Jack stories…

    Reply
  52. The Cloner -  January 8, 2011 - 3:15 am

    There’s another jack in a slang phrase that describes what teenaged boys do a lot, but I won’t spell it out here.

    Reply
  53. Wayway -  January 8, 2011 - 1:20 am

    *Lumber

    Reply
  54. Wayway -  January 8, 2011 - 1:19 am

    Like a limber-Jack

    Reply
  55. Pedantic Guy -  January 8, 2011 - 12:04 am

    Hah! Nice try Hotword. I see you “corrected” your first typo by replacing “descend” with “climb.” But unfortunately, this corrigendum just won’t cut it. Beanstalks, or any other plant for that matter, don’t “climb” into the sky either; they simply “grow.”

    @Australian Warlord: With all due respect, this is Dictionary.com; not the Discovery channel. These articles are written with a view to improving both our vocabulary and grammar, and ergo, it is well within our purview to not only notice these typos, but to also suggest suitable corrections. And apropos, I’m glad to note that you are probably from Australia, and not JACKsonville, Florida, since you obviously disdain the name. Good for you!

    Reply
  56. Mario D'Cruz -  January 7, 2011 - 11:36 pm

    Jack is an Anglo-Irish diminutive of the English name John but also James which in the following languages takes the form given beside it: Italian-Giacomo Latin/Older English-Jacob (as in the Jacobite revolution involving King James II), French-Jacques/Iago Spanish-Diago,Tiago,Diego (as in the places named after St James i.e. San Diego & Santiago) all of which are versions of the Arabic/Semitic root name:Yakub,Salman, Suleiman/Solomon and even more confusingly the root name of Hyman/Hymie & Jaime. Issues involving the origins and relationships of names have and are becoming increasingly confusing because of multiple translations, personal preferences and colloquial variations as well as spelling mistakes (San Diego in California should actually be San Diago because San Diego translated directly would mean St God in English, when it should actually mean St James.
    For those wondering, I do have a life, such matters only comprising a very small part of my preoccupations, my apologies if I have come across as overly pedantic over semantics.
    Mario

    Reply
  57. Angelina Jolie -  January 7, 2011 - 10:36 pm

    I should name my next adopted child Jack!

    Reply
  58. Cyberquill -  January 7, 2011 - 10:24 pm

    to canlestickjack: to steal candlesticks

    Reply
  59. Cyberquill -  January 7, 2011 - 10:23 pm

    to candlejack: to steal candles

    Reply
  60. Jack -  January 7, 2011 - 9:31 pm

    Did someone call me?

    Reply
  61. my name is jack -  January 7, 2011 - 9:27 pm

    lol my anme is jack.=Þ

    Reply
  62. MsKB -  January 7, 2011 - 9:15 pm

    Certainly, Jack is not just any Tom, Dick, or Harry!

    Reply
  63. Scooby-D -  January 7, 2011 - 7:46 pm

    Cool.didn’t know that. i learn some thing new every day from dictionary.com. you should write a hot blog on Greek Mythology and the Greek Gods

    Reply
  64. Australian Warlord -  January 7, 2011 - 6:16 pm

    Who cares about one grammar mistake. It’s not important for the function of the article, which is discussing the history of the name Jack in fairy tales.

    And I’m not a fan of the name either.

    Reply
  65. Mary LeeTaylor -  January 7, 2011 - 6:11 pm

    My favorite Jack of all….JACK NICHOLSON!!!!!

    Reply
  66. Olivia -  January 7, 2011 - 5:40 pm

    It never occured to me that so many nursury rhymes and fairy tales included the name Jack! Cool!

    Reply
  67. Angelina L -  January 7, 2011 - 4:59 pm

    Interesting! There’s a children’s book called the Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman which plays on the name Jack (and is also, by the way, really good), so I guess certain other people have noticed as well!

    Reply
  68. Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry -  January 7, 2011 - 4:55 pm

    Probably from, chaque, every, chacun, each one, prefixed T-or-D, Jacques, The every man….

    The suffix, -ec, may also be, you-male, like in Marduk, Mered-you-the-man.

    (Fun but really, maybe.)

    And then there’s the famous phrase: You don’t know Jack (every one).

    Reply
  69. Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry -  January 7, 2011 - 4:54 pm

    Probably from, chaque, every, chacun, each one, prefixed T-or-D, Jacques, The every man….

    The suffix, -ec, may also be, you-male, like in Marduk, Mered-you-the-man.

    (Fun but really, maybe.)

    Reply
  70. ag -  January 7, 2011 - 4:37 pm

    jack sparrow? jack black? jack nicholson? jumpin jack? lojack? jackaroo? what else? we also have our own jack his name is juan.. he actually ordered crabs to bring the groceries home from the market thats how clever he is nyahahaha

    Reply
  71. Jack Cervantes -  January 7, 2011 - 4:25 pm

    My name is Jack Cervantes and I approve of this Hot Word Blog.

    Reply
  72. triplem -  January 7, 2011 - 3:58 pm

    BLACK JACK MARK V

    Reply
  73. CapnZilog -  January 7, 2011 - 3:15 pm

    Jack In The Box…

    Reply
  74. Deidre Christiansen -  January 7, 2011 - 2:40 pm

    Fables, a comic written by Bill Willingham, plays with a theory that a character’s strength is tied to the popularity of his or her stories. Thus, Jack’s adventures across the continents make him the kind of guy who keeps coming back after each colossal fail. Much to the chagrin of all the other characters.

    Reply
  75. Mark V -  January 7, 2011 - 2:06 pm

    Hijack, hit the road Jack, jackknife, Jack in, Doing Jack-all, Hijack

    Reply
  76. Marx Lenn Mendoza -  January 7, 2011 - 1:58 pm

    oh, i didn’t know that…this article got a point on that….jack was really famous…ahh…

    Reply
  77. Cocoa -  January 7, 2011 - 1:49 pm

    Jan Jacob Jankin Heimer Schmidt?

    Reply
  78. Grammar Freak -  January 7, 2011 - 1:42 pm

    Isn’t it “ascends into the sky?” Rather than, “descends into the sky?” :]

    Do you guys do this on purpose so we can enhance our grammar/spelling? xD

    Reply
  79. Saf -  January 7, 2011 - 1:24 pm

    Sixteen String Jack, Jack the Ripper, Jack in the Green, Jack-in-the-box, Jack of Diamonds, Jack Daniels, Monterey Jack, Crackerjack, Union Jack, Applejack, Electrical Jack, Jackhammer, Jack-of-all-Trades, wait… why am I listing these?

    Anyway, I think there’s a typo in the line, “They grow into a thick stalk that descends into the sky.”

    ~Saf

    Reply
  80. rhaf -  January 7, 2011 - 1:12 pm

    just like also the story of titanic.

    Reply
  81. DougN -  January 7, 2011 - 1:07 pm

    The article says, “They grow into a thick stalk that descends into the sky.”

    If the beans were planted in the ground and the stalk went from the ground up to the clouds, wouldn’t the stalk “ascend” into the sky?

    Reply
  82. Emily -  January 7, 2011 - 12:56 pm

    Jack is a wonderful name!

    Reply

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked (required):

Related articles

Back to Top