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6 comments on this post.
  1. Bill Souder:

    What a long jackleg answer to a simple question. Here’s all that needed said.
    An unskilled or unscrupulous person, often used to describe lawyers, preachers and the word detective.

  2. Rex Fouch:

    I searched for this etymology because my daughter, who is in college near Dayton OH used the term “jack knife” and her friends asked her where she came up with that bizzare term. They insisted it was “pocket knife,” and never heard it called anything else. She then asked me if I had playing a joke on her for 19 years (we use both terms in Michigan, but I guess I generally use the shorter one. I’m relieved to learn I wasn’t using a non-legit term all those years.
    Mr Souder–read Mr Johnson’s question again…more carefully this time.

  3. Rex Fouch:

    “bizarre,” that is

  4. Mr.TracyCrawford:

    A complete answer is as long as it takes to be complete. Thank you Sir for your diligence. You have increased my understanding and that is more than I could have asked.

  5. Susan Rusciano:

    I just purchased BJ Ward’s collected poems, titled “Jackleg Opera,” and not being familiar with the term, came across your entry. Thank you for your thorough explanation of the word and its origins. (I highly recommend the poetry volume.)

  6. Ed Biemer:

    I believe that I may have the origin of the term “jackleg”. I’m not sure where I read this but I believe the term “jackleg” came about from the side effects of drinking an inferior alcoholic liquor made from the Jack Fruit. It seems the fermented juice from the Jack Fruit has a natural occurring chemical (neural toxin) in it that after fermentation causes intermittent paralyses in the legs and knees of the drinker. This resulted in strange staggering gate cause by the weakening of the legs and buckling the knees of those who drank it on a regular basis. Thus, a jackleg was a drunk or low life.

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