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From Middle English japen ‎(to joke, play tricks), of uncertain origin. Perhaps from Old French japer ‎(to bark, howl, scream) (possibly conflated with Old French gaber ‎(to mock, deride), see gab), related to Old Provençal japar, jaupar ‎(to bark, yelp, yap), probably of Germanic origin, related to Old Saxon galpōn ‎(to cry loudly, make a noise, brag) (Low German galpen ‎(to bark, howl, scream)), Middle High German gelpfen ‎(to scream, bark, boast, proclaim), Old Norse gjálpa ‎(to yelp) (Swedish dialectal galpa ‎(to cry, screech)). More at yelp, yawp, yap.



jape ‎(plural japes)

  1. A joke or quip.
    • c. 1390, Geoffrey Chaucer, "The Pardoner's Tale" in The Canterbury Tales:
      "Thou bel ami, thou Pardoner," he said,
      "Tell us some mirth of japes right anon."
    • 1920, Jeffery Farnol, The Geste of Duke Jocelyn, Fytte 9:
      [H]e clapped hand to thigh, and laughed and laughed until the air rang again.
      "Oho, a jape—a jape indeed!" he roared.


Derived terms[edit]



jape ‎(third-person singular simple present japes, present participle japing, simple past and past participle japed)

  1. (intransitive) To jest; play tricks; joke.
    • 1886, Andrew Lang, "To Sir John Manndeville" in Letters to Dead Authors:
      Now the Lond of Egypt longeth to the Soudan, yet the Soudan longeth not to the Lond of Egypt. And when I say this, I do jape with words, and may hap ye understond me not.
  2. (transitive) To mock; deride; gibe; trick; befool.