Green’s Dictionary of Slang

jack n.2

[abbr. SE jackass]

1. a fool.

[UK]J. Rastell Gentleness and Nobility line 239: Nay, iwys, pyvsh and rude Jack Javell.
[UK]Misogonus in Farmer (1906) II i: Marry. sir! this Jack Prat will go boast.
[UK]Shakespeare Taming of the Shrew II i: To wish me wed to one half lunatic; A madcap ruffian and a swearing Jack.
[UK]Dekker & Webster Westward Hoe IV i: There be a thousand bragging Jackes in London.
[UK]J. Taylor ‘Iacke a Lent’ in Works (1869) I 120: If any poore Iacke-a-Lent doe happen into the hands of a foole, tis but a Foole and a Iacke, or two fooles well met.
[UK]H. Mill Nights Search I 52: For I do use her, as a hooke and line To catch Iack-simple.
[UK] ‘The Merry Country Maid’s Answer’ in Ebsworth Roxburghe Ballads (1891) VII:2 341: For rather than I’le marry such a Clownish Jack, / I’le buy a witty fellow cloath[e]s to put on ’s back.
[UK]Catterpillers of this Nation Anatomized 5: Its likely they are but lately rose from that doglike life of Iackyes like the fool that is proud of his own wit.
[UK]C. Cotton Scoffer Scoff’d (1765) 221: This Jack, / This paltry Mountebanking Quack.
[UK]P. Kavanagh Tarry Flynn (1965) 97: ‘Shut up, you jack, you,’ said Mary.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 14: The insulting connotations usually come through most clearly when the familiar form of a name is used, as in Chico, Charlie, Heinie, Hymie, Jack, Mick, Paddy.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 3 Mar. 10: A jack named Vig [...] a dopey redneck who wouldn’t know responsibility if it palled up with him in a bar.

2. (US Und.) a drunk individual who is made the victim of a theft.

[US]Dly Press (Newport News, VA) 19 Apr. 12/14: Once in a whilea pickpkcket will run across a drunken man who is easy to rob. Such a man is known as a ‘jack’.

In compounds

In phrases

lay on the jack (v.)

to beat or scold severely.

[UK]Hist. of Jacob and Esau V vi: If I wrought one stroke to day, lay me on the iacke.
[UK]North Lives of Noble Grecians 127: They should make no reckoning of all that brauery and brags, but should sticke to it like men, and lay it on the iacks of them.
play the jack (v.)

1. to act the villain. [play on jack = the ‘knave’ in cards].

[UK]Shakespeare Tempest IV i: Your fairy [...] has done little better than play the jack with us.
[UK]Rowlands ‘A Drunken Knave’ Knave of Hearts 53: Boy y’are a villaine, didst thou fill this sacke? / ’Tis flat you Rascall, thou hast plaid the Jacke.
[UK]Pepys Diary 23 Feb. n.p.: Sir R. Brookes overtook us coming to town; who played the jack with us all, and is a fellow that I must trust no more.

2. to play the fool.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 897/1: C.19.