Green’s Dictionary of Slang

jakes n.1

also jake, jaxe
[? jack’s or jack’s place; using SE jack as generic for a man. Note synon. 1930s+ Virginia dial. jack-house; note also Nares, Glossary (1822): ‘Its etymology is uncertain, unless we accept the very bad pun of Sir John (Harington), who derives it (in jest indeed) from an old man who, at such a place, cried out age akes, age akes, meaning that age causes aches’]

1. a lavatory; occas. in sing.

[UK]J. Heywood Play of Love in Farmer Dramatic Writings (1905) 182: My lady, your leman, one undertakes / To be safe from fire by slipping through a jakes.
[UK]Udall (trans.) Erasmus’ Apophthegms (1564) Bk I 117: He shoulde after comming from the iakes, put his servaunt to the office of wyping his taile.
[UK]T. Ingelend Disobedient Child Bi: Wylt thou then [...] let thy youth unhonestly be spent And do as poor knaues, which Jaxes do scoure.
‘To Iulius Florus’ in Brome Poems of Horace (1656) 373: Anon I meet a Sow out of a Jakes.
[UK]‘Mr S’ Gammer Gurton’s Needle in Whitworth (1997) III iii: Thou slut, thou cut, thou rakes, thou jakes, will not shame make thee hide?
[UK]‘Bashe Libel’ in May & Bryson Verse Libel 80: A man that had good list to shight / Might make his neck a noble jakes / And down his throat by gobbes and flakes / The durt must fall into his guttes.
[UK]J. Harington Metamorphosis of Ajax C5: Arrius that notable hereticke, came to his miserable end vpon a iakes. [...] The great brass sluice [...] sent it down a gallop into the Jax.
Dobson’s Dry Bobs M3: An old Jakes [...] wherein they used to throwe all their filthy dust and sweepings.
[UK]L. Barry Ram-Alley IV i: Nor can a citty common Iakes, Which all mens Breeches vndertakes, Yeeld fasting stomakes such a sauour, As doth his breath and vgly fauour.
[UK]The Wandering Jew 19: My sonne sweares he had rather thrust his head into a Jakes, than peepe into my chamber.
[UK]Le Strange Merry Passages and Jeasts No. 184 63: Sir John Heydon used to say, that he had rather fall into a Jakes then my faire Lady Caryes foule mouth.
[UK]C. Cotton Virgil Travestie (1765) Bk IV 95: Thou here thyself most busy makes, / In building for the Queen a Jakes.
[UK]J. Oldham ‘Upon the Author of a Play call’d Sodom’ in Rochester Poems on Several Occasions (1680) 130: Or (if I may ordain a Fate more fit) / For such foul, nasty Excrements of Wit, / May they, condemn’d, to th’ publick Jakes, be sent.
[UK]J. Crowne Sir Courtly Nice II i: A gold-finder, madam? look into jakes for bits o’ money?
[UK]Dryden Juvenal III 35: From thence return’d, their sordid Avarice rakes In Excrements again, and hires the Jakes.
S. Garth Dispensary iv 45: So when Perfumes their fragrant Scent give o’re, Nought can their Odour, like a Jakes, restore.
[UK]J. Dunton Bumography 16: Let’s loose the comon Sewer of her Brain, Which like a Jakes, or Sink, had lain.
[UK]Bailey (trans.) Erasmus’ Colloquies 199: [in fig. use] When I was at Rome, I empty’d the whole Jakes of my Sins into the Bosom of a Confessor.
[UK]Pope Dunciad I 7: Here all his suff’ring brotherhood retire, And ’scape the martyrdom of jakes and fire.
[UK]R. Bull Grobianus 266: It gave so rank, so redolent a Smell, As wou’d a Boghouse or a Jakes excel.
[UK]Cleland Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1985) 15: An out-mouth from two more properly tushes than teeth, livid lips, and a breath like a jakes.
[UK]The Tricks of the Town Laid Open (4 edn) 69: A Bawdyhouse! why ’tis [...] more to be avoided by far than a Jakes or a Pesthouse.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Jakes, a house of office, a cacatorium.
[UK]A. Pasquin Shrove Tuesday 53: I trembled when he met my mental eye, / Like fraudful Hucksters when their weights are tried! [...] Or Spaniels when they’re screwing out a jakes!
[UK]‘Peter Pindar’ ‘Epistle to Count Rumford’ Works (1801) V 453: Balm from a bog, and dinners from a J-kes!
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]R. Nares Gloss. (1888) I 13: ajax Sir John Harington, in 1596, published his celebrated tract, called ‘The Metamorphosis of ajax’, by which he meant the improvement of a jakes, or necessary, by forming it into what we now call a water-closet, of which Sir John was clearly the inventor.
[UK]G.F. Northall Folk-Phrases of Four Counties 39: A privy, jakes.
[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 43: jake, n. Water-closet for men.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 66: He kicked open the crazy door of the jakes.
[UK](con. 1914–18) Brophy & Partridge Songs and Sl. of the British Soldier.
[US]S. Longstreet Flesh Peddlers (1964) 287: Oh, whistle when you use the jake. There are no locks on the door.
[Ire]P. Boyle All Looks Yellow to the Jaundiced Eye 50: You’d be right in thinking that an underground jakes is a poor place for a smoke and a chat.
[Ire]J. Morrow Confessions of Proinsias O’Toole 43: Six halves of Haig, fourteen stouts by the neck [...] an’ the keys of the jakes for the lady.
[US]S. King Tommyknockers (1989) 160: I was sitting on the jakes.
[Ire]P. McCabe Butcher Boy 107: He heard them saying in the jakes Brady was going to batter the master.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 4 Mar. 4: On the states of jakes in any town / The BTA (British Toilet Association) will brief MPs.
[UK]Guardian G2 10 Jan. 7: A seedy airport jakes.

2. (also jacques) in fig. use of sense 1, a wretched place or situation.

[UK]M. Stevenson Wits Paraphras’d 118: But in the Woods pursue thy freaks / And meddle not with such a Jacques.
[UK]Progress of a Rake 49: My brother rakes / Have left me too in dismal Jakes.

3. attrib. use of sense 1.

[US]T. Wolfe Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1969) 57: Sanitized jake seats / Ammonia pucks in every urinal.

In compounds

jakes-farmer (n.) (also jakes barreller) [SE farmer, one who cleanses]

a man employed to clean out privies .

[UK]Greene Second Part of Conny-Catching in Grosart (1881–3) X 101: I will for reuenge onely appoint the Jakes farmers of London, who shall cage them in their filthy vesselles, and carrye them as dung to manure the barrain places of Tibourne.
[UK]Nashe Have With You to Saffron-Walden in Works III (1883–4) 196: Like a iakes barreller.
[UK]Rowlands Greenes Ghost Haunting Conicatchers D2: His face, his necke and apparell were all besmeared with the soft Sir-reuerence, so that I warrant you hee stunke worse than a Jakes-farmer.
[UK]T. Overbury New and Choise Characters n.p.: A Divellish usurer [...] Hee is a man of no conscience; for (like the Jakesfarmer that swouned with going into Bucklersbury) he falles into a cold sweat.
[UK]Beaumont & Fletcher Love’s Cure II i: Nay we are all Signiors here in Spain, from the Jakes-farmer to the Grandee.
[UK]Horn & Robotham (trans.) Gate of Languages Unlocked Ch. 58 624: The common draught-house ([jakes) [...] which the jakes-farmer [gold-finder] makes cleane.
[UK]Man in the Moon 5 May 12: Though Gentry will not come to see the Play, / Jacques-farmers will frequent it eve’ry day.