Jackanapes / ja-kə-ˌnāps / noun
Definition: Jackanapes can refer to any of the following:
- An impudent, conceited person.
- An absurd fop.
- A mischievous or saucy child.
- A monkey or ape. (This definition is archaic.)
Etymology: This word originally referred to William de la Pole, the first Duke of Suffolk. It comes from the Middle English word “Jakken-apes,” or “Jack of the apes.” This is because his official badge showed the kind of ball and chain that were used to keep pet apes at the time, presumably because he had one. It was most likely kept as a status symbol, a sign of how wealthy he was.
William de la Pole started off at a relatively low social station and rose quickly to become a Duke and the power behind the throne of King Henry VI. His enemies called him Jakken-apes as a way of being dismissive, implying that he was a jumped-up, pretentious man of inferior social status.
In a Sentence
I asked for directions, but the young jackanapes just insulted me and walked off.
The diamond rings and fancy coat make him look like a real jackanape.
He thinks he’s the greatest, but he’s just a jackanapes.