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From Middle English japen (to deceive, play tricks on; act foolishly, joke; have sex with), of uncertain origin. Perhaps from Old French japer (to bark, howl, scream; chatter, gossip) (possibly conflated with Old French gaber (to mock, deride), see gab), related to Old Occitan japar, jaupar (to bark, yelp, yap), probably of Proto-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) (dialectal Swedish galpa (to cry, screech)). More at yelp, yawp, yap.


  • IPA(key): /d͡ʒeɪp/
  • Rhymes: -eɪp
  • (file)


jape (plural japes)

  1. A joke or quip.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:joke
    • 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.
  2. A prank or trick.
    • 1989, Greil Marcus, “The Art of Yesterday's Crash”, in Lipstick Traces, Faber & Faber, published 2009:
      In London or New York in the late 1970s dada meant what it meant in Paris and New York at the end of the First World War: a not-quite-naked prank, a jape clothed in the barest g-string of aesthetic authority, a Bronx cheer in three-part harmony, Tzara's affirmation of the right “to piss and shit in different colors.”

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.
    Synonyms: joke; see also Thesaurus:jest
    • 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.
    Synonyms: gibe, trick, befool, make fun of, razz; see also Thesaurus:mock
  3. (obsolete) To have sexual intercourse with.
    Synonyms: coitize, go to bed with, sleep with; see also Thesaurus:copulate with
    • 1510, Hycke Scorner; “Hickscorner”, in Robert Dodsley, William Carew Hazlitt, editors, A Select Collection of Old English Plays, 4th edition, volume 1, London: Reeves and Turner, 1874, page 171:
      Nay, brother, lay hand on him soon; / For he japed my wife, and made me cuckold.
    • 1530, John Palsgrave, L'esclarcissement de la Langue Francoyse, Paris: Impremierie Nationale, published 1852, page 589:
      I jape a wench [] it is better to jape a wenche than to do worce.
    • 1540, Sir David Lyndsay, Ane Pleasant Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis, lines 323–324; republished in The Poetical Works of Sir David Lyndsay, volume 2, 1879, page 23:
      Thair is ane hundreth heir sittand by / That luiffis geaping als weill as I.
    • c. 1550, Alexander Scott, Poems, published 1821, page 26:
      Sum gois so gymp in gyis / Or sche war kissit plane, / Sche leir be japit thryis.
    • 1598, Florio, Worlde of Wordes:
      Fottere. To jape, to sard, to fucke, to swive, to occupye.


Middle English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]


jape (plural japes)

  1. joke; comic tale