Related Questions



jack: see pompano; tuna.
jack, mechanical device used to multiply a relatively small applied force so that it can lift and support heavy loads, or sometimes, move massive objects into a desired position. The lever jack, often used in lifting automobiles, has a lever combined with a ratchet; the lever is used to lift the load a small distance and the ratchet prevents the load from falling back while the lever is reset so that the process can be repeated. In the screw jack the load is moved or lifted by the turning of a screw; the pitch of the screw threads is arranged so that friction is sufficient to hold the load in place when the torque applied to the screw is released. In yet another form of jack a hydraulic device is used. See hydraulic machine.
Levine, Jack, 1915-, American painter, b. Boston. Levine began his career with the Federal Arts Project. His paintings treat social themes in a bitter, satirical vein. They are executed with diffused, prismatic textural effects. The persons he portrays are the essence of corruption, withered, distorted, yet glittering. Among his most celebrated paintings are Gangster Funeral (Whitney Mus., New York City), The Feast of Pure Reason and Election Night (both: Mus. of Modern Art, New York City), Welcome Home (Brooklyn Mus.), and The Trial (Art Inst., Chicago).
Wilson, Jack: see Wovoka.
Teagarden, Jack (Weldon Leo Teagarden), 1905-64, American jazz trombonist and singer, b. Vernon, Tex. One of the earliest white bluesmen, he came from a jazz-playing family and was mainly self-taught. He sometimes played with his brothers, trumpeter Charlie and drummer Cub, and sister, pianist Norma. In his twenties Teagarden wandered across America's Southwest, playing in several jazz groups, and arrived in New York in 1927. He played in bands led by Ben Pollack (1928-33), Paul Whiteman (1933-38), and Louis Armstrong (1947-51), and also led his own groups (1939-47; 1951-57). He began recording in the late 1920s and made many albums throughout his career. Teagarden was one of the great horn players of the mid-20th cent.; his trombone playing, seemingly effortless yet extremely accomplished technically, was uniquely smooth and lyrical. In addition, his somewhat gruff, drawling voice was ideal for singing the blues.

See biography by J. D. Smith (1976, rev. ed. 1988); study by H. J. Waters (1960).

Lemmon, Jack (John Uhler Lemmon 3d), 1925-2001, American actor, b. Newton, Mass., grad. Harvard (1947). He became famous in roles ranging from sardonic comedy to compelling drama, ultimately achieving the status of a kind of modern American Everyman, often hapless yet persevering. A talented piano player, he worked as a musician and acted in late 1940s and early 50s radio, television, and stage productions. He soon moved on to Hollywood, making his first film in 1954 and attracting wide attention as the likably brash Ensign Pulver in Mister Roberts (1955; Academy Award). His other early comedies include Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot (1950) and The Apartment (1960). In 1962, Lemmon starred as an anguished alcoholic in his first movie drama, the harrowing Days of Wine and Roses. During his career, Lemmon appeared in more than 60 movies, among them The Odd Couple (1968) and its sequel (1998), Save the Tiger (1973; Academy Award), The China Syndrome (1979), Tribute (1980), Missing (1982), JFK (1991), Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), and Grumpy Old Men (1993) and its sequel (1995). He also continued to act on stage and television, e.g., in Long Day's Journey into Night (1986-87) and the Emmy-winning Tuesdays with Morrie (1999).

See biographies by M. Freedland (1985) and D. Widener (rev. ed. 2000); J. Baltake, Jack Lemmon: His Films and Career (rev. ed. 1986).

Nicholson, Jack, 1937-, American film actor, b. Neptune, N.J. After appearing in a series of low-budget movies for some 10 years, he scored his first success with Easy Rider (1969). One of Hollywood's most accomplished actors, adept at both drama and comedy and known for his versatility, charm, and debonair rebelliousness, Nicholson has won Academy Awards for his work in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), Terms of Endearment (1983), and As Good as It Gets (1997). His other films include Five Easy Pieces (1970), Chinatown (1974), The Shining (1980), Prizzi's Honor (1985), Ironweed (1987), Batman (1989), A Few Good Men (1992), Hoffa (1992), and About Schmidt (2002). Nicholson has also directed several films, including The Two Jakes (1990), a sequel to Chinatown, in which he also starred.

See P. McGilligan, Jack's Life (1994).

London, Jack (John Griffith London), 1876-1916, American author, b. San Francisco. The illegitimate son of an astrologer and a Welsh farm girl, he had a poverty-stricken childhood, brought up by his mother and her husband, John London. At 17, Jack London shipped as an able seaman to Japan and the Bering Sea. He was an oyster pirate, a gold-seeker in the first Klondike rush, a newspaper correspondent during the Russo-Japanese War, and in 1914 a war correspondent in Mexico. His stories, romantic adventures with realistic setting and character, began to appear first in the Overland Monthly. In 1900, The Son of the Wolf: Tales of the Far North was published. London's Klondike tales are exciting, vigorous, and brutal. The Call of the Wild (1903), about a tame dog who eventually leads a wolf pack, is one of the best animal stories ever written. Among his other works are The Sea-Wolf (1904), White Fang (1905), and Smoke Bellew (1912). Martin Eden (1909) and Burning Daylight (1910) are partly autobiographical. Although he was a highly paid writer of extremely popular fiction, London, a socialist, considered his social tracts—The People of the Abyss (1903) and The Iron Heel (1907)—as his most important work. The Cruise of the Snark (1911) is a vivid account of his interrupted voyage around the world in a 50-ft (15.2-m) ketch-rigged yacht, and John Barleycorn; or, Alcoholic Memoirs (1913) is autobiographical. Beset in his later years by alcoholism and financial difficulties, London died at the age of 40.

See Charmian London (his second wife), The Log of the Snark (1915), Our Hawaii (1917), and The Book of Jack London (2 vol., 1921); biographies by his daughter, Joan London (1969), and by J. Hedrick (1982), A. Sinclair (1983), C. Stasz (1988), and A. Kershaw (1998); studies by E. Labor (1977) and C. Watson (1982).

Beeson, Jack, 1921-, American composer, b. Muncie, Ind. Beeson studied at the Eastman School of Music and privately in New York with Béla Bartók. Beginning to teach at Columbia Univ. in 1945, he was named MacDowell Professor of Music in 1967; he retired in 1988 but returned as a member of the Society of Senior Scholars. Beeson has written songs and choral pieces, piano sonatas, chamber works, and various orchestral works including a symphony (1959). He is particularly known for his operas, which include Hello Out There! (1954), The Sweet Bye and Bye (1957), Lizzie Borden (premiered by the New York City Opera in 1965), My Heart's in the Highlands (premiered on television in 1970), Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines (1975), Dr. Heidegger's Fountain of Youth (1978), Cyrano (1991), and Sorry, Wrong Number (1999). His vocal works, set to a catholic choice of texts, are marked by a varied stylistic approach unified by attention to contrapuntal lines and instrumental color.
Benny, Jack, 1894-1974, American comedian, b. Waukegan, Ill., as Benjamin Kubelsky. His shows on radio (1932-55) and television (1950-65) made famous his miserliness, reproachful silences, and violin. His films include To Be or Not to Be (1942).
Johnson, Jack (John Arthur Johnson), 1878-1946, American boxer, b. Galveston, Tex., the son of two ex-slaves. Emerging from the battle royals (dehumanizing fights between blacks for the amusement of white patrons) of his youth, he defeated Tommy Burns in 1908 to become the world's first African-American heavyweight champion. After an interracial marriage and his defeat of several white hopefuls, Johnson was convicted in 1913 under contrived circumstances for violation of a federal law. He fled to Europe and remained a champion in exile until he lost in a 1915 bout in Cuba, knocked out in the 26th round by Jess Willard. Upon his return to the United States in 1920, he served a year in prison.

See biography by G. C. Ward (2004).

Lynch, Jack (John Mary Lynch), 1917-99, Irish statesman. Before he embarked on his political career, he gained nationwide fame as an athlete, captaining several winning hurling teams in the 1930s and 40s. He studied law at University College in Cork and at the King's Inns in Dublin and was admitted to the bar in 1945. He entered the Dáil (parliament) in 1948 as a member of the Fianna Fáil party. Beginning in 1951, Lynch rose steadily in the government. He was minister for education (1957-59), for industry and commerce (1959-65), and for finance (1965-66). He demonstrated great ability as a mediator in major labor disputes and in 1966 was elected to succeed Sean F. Lemass as prime minister of the Republic of Ireland. Reelected in 1969, he became involved in a series of tense political disputes over his policy toward the escalating violence between Protestants and Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland. Lynch also led the republic into the European Community (now the European Union). His party was defeated in the 1973 election, but was returned to power in 1977; he served a second term as prime minister from 1977 to 1979.
Anderson, Jack (Jackson Northman Anderson), 1922-2005, American newspaper columnist, b. Long Beach, Calif. After serving as a Mormon missionary (1941-44) and a term as a war correspondent during 1945, he was hired by Drew Pearson for the staff of his column, "Washington Merry-Go-Round." Anderson and Pearson later collaborated on The Case against Congress (1969). Anderson took over the column after Pearson's death in 1969 and retired from writing it in 2004. Controversial because of his unorthodox methods of obtaining news stories, Anderson nonetheless uncovered vital information, including facts about the Watergate affair. His reporting on the secret relations between the United States and Pakistan in its war with India won the 1972 Pulitzer Prize. He also revealed information on the Iran-contra affair during the Reagan administration. Anderson interviewed an enormous range of 20th-century figures; his later reporting is considered more moderate than his earlier work.

See his memoir, Confessions of a Muckraker (1979).

Dempsey, Jack (William Harrison Dempsey), 1895-1983, American boxer, b. Manassa, Colo. Dempsey, called the "Manassa Mauler," emerged from fights on saloon floors near mining camps to become (1919) the world's heavyweight champion and one of the major sports figures of the 1920s. He sealed his slugging reputation in his first title fight by knocking down the gigantic champion, Jess Willard, seven times in the first three minutes. Dempsey held the crown until losing to Gene Tunney in 1926. In a rematch Dempsey knocked Tunney down in the seventh round, but failed to immediately return to his corner, thus allowing Tunney the benefit of a legendary 14-second "long count." After retirement, he worked occasionally as a referee and spent nearly four decades as proprietor of a popular New York City restaurant.

See R. Roberts, The Manassa Mauler (1979); R. Kahn, A Flame of Pure Fire (1999).

Sheppard, Jack, 1702-24, English criminal. Raised in a workhouse, he ran away with Bess Lyon, known as Edgeworth Bess, who, with another girl known as Poll Maggott, incited him to a short but spectacular career as a thief and robber. He achieved his greatest fame for his many and astonishing escapes from custody, climaxed by an amazing escape (1724) from Newgate Prison. He was soon apprehended and hanged at Tyburn. His exploits became the subject of numerous narratives and plays, one or two attributed to Daniel Defoe, and he is the hero of W. H. Ainworth's novel Jack Sheppard (1839).

See C. Hibbert, The Road to Tyburn (1957).

Steinberger, Jack, 1921-, American physicist, b. Kissingen, Germany, Ph.D. Univ. of Chicago, 1948. He was a professor at Columbia from 1950 until 1971. In the early 1960s, Steinberger and co-researchers, Leon Lederman and Melvin Schwartz, developed the neutrino beam method to study weak interactions and then discovered a previously unknown type of neutrino (a particle with no detectable electric charge or mass that moves at the speed of light). This led to the development of a new scheme for classifying families of subatomic particles. In 1988, the trio shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work.
Welch, Jack (John Francis Welch, Jr.), 1935-, American business executive, b. Salem, Mass., grad. Univ. of Massachusetts (1957); Univ. of Illinois (M.S., 1958; Ph.D., chemical engineering, 1960). He joined General Electric (GE) in 1960 and became vice president (1972) and then vice chairman (1979). In 1981 he became chairman and CEO of GE; at 45, he was the youngest person ever to have held that position. Under Welch, GE made a series of aquisitions, including RCA with its NBC television network in 1986, that resulted in its becoming the world's largest manufacturing, technology, and service company, with 1999 revenues of over $110 billion. Welch is credited with "reinventing" GE by encouraging decentralization in the organization, plus speed, simplicity, and self-confidence among management, but he was also known as "Neutron Jack" because of the number of employees that were fired or laid off during his tenure. He introduced the "Work Out" concept, a results-focused approach to problem solving. He retired in 2001.

See his Jack: Straight from the Gut (with J. A. Byrne, 2001); studies by T. F. O'Boyle (1998) and R. Slater (1998).

Cade, Jack, d. 1450, English rebel. Of his life very little is known. He may have been of Irish birth; some of his followers called him John Mortimer and claimed he was a cousin of Richard, duke of York. In 1450 he appeared as the leader of a well-organized uprising in the S of England, principally in Kent, usually known as Jack Cade's Rebellion. The protests were mainly political, not social, although the 14th-century Statute of Labourers (which attempted to freeze wages and prices) was among the grievances. Others were the loss of royal lands in France, the extravagance of the court, the corruption of the royal favorites, and the breakdown of the administration of justice. The rebels defeated the royal army at Sevenoaks, entered London, executed Lord Saye and Sele (who was blamed for the losses in France), and sacked several houses. The government then offered pardon to Cade's men and so dispersed them. Cade himself was mortally wounded while resisting arrest.

See E. N. Simons, Lord of London (1963).

Kramer, Jack (John Albert Kramer), 1921-2009, American tennis player, b. Las Vegas, Nev. He excelled at tennis while still in high school. Kramer and Frederick (Ted) Schroeder won the U.S. national doubles championship in 1940 and again in 1941. While serving (1942-46) in the U.S. Coast Guard in World War II, Kramer continued to play tournament tennis, and in 1943 (with Frank Parker) he again won the national doubles title. In 1946-47 he led the U.S. teams that won the Davis Cup, and he also won the national singles title, the national doubles (with Ted Schroeder), the British singles, and the British doubles (with Bob Falkenburg). After turning professional (1947), he took the U.S. professional singles (1948), the world professional singles (1949), and (with Bobby Riggs) the world professional doubles (1949) championships. He began promoting professional tennis tournaments in 1952, retiring in 1954 to continue these activities. Kramer's aggressive serve-and-volley game presaged the contemporary attacking style of play, and his promotion of international pro tennis did much to establish today's popular and lucrative Open system.

See his memoir (with F. Deford, 1979).

Kerouac, Jack (John Kerouac), 1922-69, American novelist, b. Lowell, Mass., studied at Columbia. One of the leaders of the beat generation, a term he is said to have coined, he was the author of the largely autobiographical novel On the Road (1957), widely considered the testament of the beat movement. Frequently employing idiosyncratically lyrical language, Kerouac's writings reflect a frenetic, restless pursuit of new sensation and experience and a disdain for the conventional measures of economic and social success. Among his other works are the novels The Subterraneans (1958), The Dharma Bums (1958), Big Sur (1962), and Desolation Angels (1965); a volume of poetry, Mexico City Blues (1959); and a volume describing his dreams, Book of Dreams (1961). By the time he died of complications of alcoholism he had written more than 25 books.

See A. Charters, ed., Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters, 1940-1956 (1995) and Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters, 1957-1969 (1999); D. Brinkley, ed., Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac, 1947-1954 (2004); H. Cunnell, ed., On the Road: The Original Scroll (2007); biographies by A. Charters (1973), B. Gifford and L. Lee (1978, repr. 1994), D. McNally (1980), G. Nicosia (1988), and B. Miles (1998); studies by T. Hunt (1981), R. Weinreich (1986), I. Gewirtz (2007), J. Leland (2007), and P. Maher, Jr. (2007).

A jack-o'-lantern (sometimes also spelled Jack O'Lantern) is typically a carved pumpkin. It is associated chiefly with the holiday Halloween, and was named after the phenomenon of strange light flickering over peat bogs, called ignis fatuus or jack-o'-lantern. In a jack-o'-lantern, typically the top is cut off, and the inside flesh then scooped out; an image, usually a monstrous face, is carved onto the outside surface, and the lid replaced. At night a light (commonly a candle) is placed inside to illuminate the effect. The term is not particularly common outside North America, although the practice of carving lanterns for Halloween is.

Pumpkin craft

Sections of the pumpkin are cut out to make a design, often depicting a face. A variety of tools may be used to carve and hollow out the gourd, ranging from simple knives and spoons to specialized instruments, typically sold in holiday sections of grocery stores. Printed stencils can be used as a guide for increasingly complex designs. It is possible to create surprisingly artistic designs, be they simple or intricate in nature. After carving, a light source (traditionally a candle, sometimes an electric light) is placed inside the pumpkin and the top is put back into place. The light illuminates the design from the inside. Sometimes a chimney is carved in. But towards the end of the 20th century, artists began expressing every kind of idea they could imagine on pumpkins. Today, it is common to see portraits of political candidates, celebrities and cartoon characters.

North American tradition

Throughout Ireland and Britain, there is a long tradition of carving lanterns from vegetables, particularly the turnip, mangelwurzel, or swede. But not until 1837 does jack-o'-lantern appear as a term for a carved vegetable lantern, and the carved lantern does not become associated specifically with Halloween until 1866. Significantly, both occurred not in Ireland or Britain, but in North America. Historian David J. Skal writes,

Although every modern chronicle of the holiday repeats the claim that vegetable lanterns were a time-honored component of Halloween celebrations in the British Isles, none gives any primary documentation. In fact, none of the major nineteenth-century chronicles of British holidays and folk customs make any mention whatsoever of carved lanterns in connection with Halloween. Neither do any of the standard works of the early twentieth century.

In America, the carved pumpkin was first associated with the harvest season in general, long before it became an emblem of Halloween. The poet John Greenleaf Whittier, who was born in 1807, wrote in "The Pumpkin" (1850):

Oh!—fruit loved of boyhood!—the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!


An old Irish folk tale tells of Jack, a lazy yet shrewd farmer who uses a cross to trap the Devil. One story says that Jack tricked the Devil into climbing an apple tree, and once he was up there Jack quickly placed crosses around the trunk or carved a cross into the bark, so that the Devil couldn't get down. Another myth says that Jack put a key in the Devil's pocket while he was suspended upside-down.

Another version of the myth says that Jack was getting chased by some villagers from whom he had stolen, when he met the Devil, who claimed it was time for him to die. However, the thief stalled his death by tempting the Devil with a chance to bedevil the church-going villagers chasing him. Jack told the Devil to turn into a coin with which he would pay for the stolen goods (the Devil could take on any shape he wanted); later, when the coin/Devil disappeared, the Christian villagers would fight over who had stolen it. The Devil agreed to this plan. He turned himself into a silver coin and jumped into Jack's wallet, only to find himself next to a cross Jack had also picked up in the village. Jack had closed the wallet tight, and the cross stripped the Devil of his powers; and so he was trapped. In both myths, Jack only lets the Devil go when he agrees never to take his soul. After a while the thief died, as all living things do. Of course, his life had been too sinful for Jack to go to heaven; however, the Devil had promised not to take his soul, and so he was barred from hell as well. Jack now had nowhere to go. He asked how he would see where to go, as he had no light, and the Devil mockingly tossed him an ember that would never burn out from the flames of hell. Jack carved out one of his turnips (which was his favourite food), put the ember inside it, and began endlessly wandering the Earth for a resting place. He became known as "Jack of the Lantern", or Jack-o'-Lantern.

There are variations on the legend:

  • Some versions include a "wise and good man", or even God helping Jack to prevail over the Devil.
  • There are different versions of Jack's bargain with the Devil. Some variations say the deal was only temporary but the Devil, embarrassed and vengeful, refuses Jack entry to hell after Jack dies.
  • Jack is considered a greedy man and is not allowed into either heaven or hell, without any mention of the Devil.
  • In some variations, God gives Jack the turnip

Despite the colourful legends, the term jack-o'-lantern originally meant a night watchman, or man with a lantern, with the earliest known use in the mid-17th century; and later, meaning an ignis fatuus or will-o'-the-wisp. In Labrador and Newfoundland, both names "Jacky Lantern" and "Jack the Lantern" refer to the will-o'-the-wisp concept rather than the pumpkin carving aspect.

Pumpkin carving world records and pumpkin festivals

For a long time, Keene, New Hampshire held the world record for most jack-o'-lanterns carved and lit in one place. Life is Good teamed up with Camp Sunshine, a camp for children with life threatening illnesses and their families, to break the record. A record was set on October 21, 2006 when 30,128 jack-o'-lanterns were simultaneously lit on Boston Common.

Popular culture

  • A character in the Megami Tensei series called Pyro Jack is based on the folklore of the Jack o' Lantern.
  • In the beginning of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington appears as a scarecrow with a jack-o'-lantern for a head before lighting his head on fire with a torch he took from the crowd and diving into a fountain, possibly symbolizing his similarity to the Jack-O'-Lantern folklore.
  • In the comic book Jack of Fables, the Jack O'Lantern story is attributed to Jack Horner, a character who has been the "true" inspiration for virtually every folklore "Jack" in history. (Jack Frost, Jack and the Beanstalk, etc.)


See also

Further reading

  • Ben Truwe, The Halloween Catalog Collection. Medford, Oregon: Talky Tina Press, 2003. ISBN 0-9703448-5-6. Contains a well-documented history of the jack-o'-lantern as an emblem of Halloween.
  • Jack O Lantern Productions is a comic series featuring a pumpkin-headed character named Jack and his friends Lucy,BIRDY,BEJ,Death,Sonicin,Zigz,a Zombie Emo,Red,and a Mii character named Random.

Search another word or see jackon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature