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Idioms - Letter J
American English Idioms - Letter J

In this lesson you will learn American English idioms beginning with the letter J. You will learn the definition and study the usage of each idiom.
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Idiom Definition Usage

a person who knows a little about a lot of different subjects or activities, but not a lot about any one of them

The expression is part of the saying “He’s a jack of all trades but a master of none.” Being described as a jack of all trades can be either a compliment (usually when it is used without the second half of the saying) or an insult (when it occurs in the saying and the emphasis is on the fact that one is master of none).
1. Walt is good at so many things: he can fix the plumbing and wiring in his house, he fixed his roof when it leaked, he installed his washer and dryer, and he paints the house when it needs it. He’s really a jack of all trades.

2. The position in the company required someone who knew everything about a very narrow subject. They weren’t looking for a jack of all trades.
jack up increase Stores typically jack up prices during the holidays.
jam on the brakes stop the car suddenly Because of the cow on the road she had to jam on the brakes.
jam-packed crowded This club is really popular and always jam-packed.
jazz it up  
jerking someone around causing me trouble Recently it seems like everyone is jerking me around.
jockeying for position maneuvering to get an advantage The candidates for the presidency were jockeying for position.
John Doe unknown person Another John Doe was driving while intoxicated.
JOHN HANCOCK one’s signature 1. If you’ll just put your John Hancock on this line at the bottom of the contract, you can drive the car away right now.

2. They sent the check back because he forgot to put his John Hancock on it. The expression refers to the signature of the first person to sign the American Declaration of Independence in 1776. John Hancock’s signature was larger than the others and stood out clearly.
John Henry signature Please put your John Henry on the application form.

Compare to: wet behind the ears

The expression is used to dismiss someone’s importance due to a lack of experience.
1. You can’t expect to join the company, take over immediately, and not cause some hard feelings. To the workers, you’re a Johnny come lately.

2. The author of the book was under attack because he was a Johnny come lately to the field and didn’t have the reputation that the older, more established authors had.
Johnny-on-the-spot in the right place at the right time He always seems to be Johnny-on-the-spot.
jump all over someone scold me For no reason, he began to jump all over me.
jump at quickly accept She knew that he would jump at the chance to go to Japan.
jump down one's throat yell at him She began to jump down his throat over being late.
jump on someone scold The boss would jump on him for even a small mistake.
jump on the bandwagon  
jump out of one's skin be badly frightened She looked as if she would jump out of her skin while she was watching the horror movie.
JUMP THE GUN to do something prematurely; to start early, before all the preparations have been made.

The expression probably originates from foot racing, in which an overly anxious runner would accidentally begin the race before the starting gun was fired.
1. You can’t begin the project yet. You’re going to have to wait until the plan is thoroughly developed. Don’t jump the gun.

2. You bought your son a football and he’s only six weeks old. Don’t you think you’re jumping the gun a little?
jump through a hoop obey any order He is always ready to jump through a hoop for his boss.
jump to conclusions make quick conclusions You should not jump to conclusions until you know all the facts.
JUMPING-OFF POINT a starting place or inspiration

This expression is usually used for discussions or creative pursuits.
1. Kelly used her mother’s lasagna recipe as a jumpingoff point, but added her favorite ingredients to make it the way she liked it.

2. Joe used sheet music as a jumping-off point for his song. He played the tune as written, but added to it as he went.

food that is relatively unhealthy, high in sugar and fat and lacking in vitamins, minerals and other body-building components
1. My children seem to live on junk food: hamburgers, French fries, milkshakes, chips, cakes, cookies, candy, and soda pop.

2. The parents brought snacks for the children to eat. The school had asked them to bring healthy foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, yogurt and cheese. They asked them not to bring junk food.
just about nearly I waited just about one hour for her to come.
just now this very moment The movie began just now.
just off the boat naive He acts like he is just off the boat.
just so close to perfect She always makes sure that her hair is just so before she goes out.
just the same nevertheless I told her not to come early but just the same she came early anyway.
just what the doctor ordered exactly what was needed The extra day off from work was just what the doctor ordered.
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