One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A lavatory, especially an outdoor one.
lavatory, wc, water closet, convenience, public convenience, facilities, urinal, privy, latrine, outhouse, earth closetView synonyms
- ‘Bloom kicks open "the crazy door of the jakes." In the cobwebbed privacy of the biffy with "the stench of mouldy limewash and stale cobwebs" Bloom "eases himself".’
- ‘You're told about table manners to relieve yourself in a jakes above a stream.’
- ‘A jakes, of course, was the Elizabethan word for a mouldy toilet.’
- ‘Nothing fancy, just a long drop, probably leading to a cistern that served several other jakes, but it was a luxury here.’
- ‘Out with the boss for a power lunch? Don't excuse yourself to use the "rest room", how dull: announce that you are headed for the jakes!’
Mid 16th century: perhaps from the given name Jacques, or as the genitive of the pet name Jack (see jack).
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