Date: Thu, 16 Feb 1995 11:19:38 CST From: Mike Picone Subject: Re: jakes The OED (1989) says "origin uncertain; it has been suggested to be from the proper name _Jacques_, _Jakes_; or from _Jakke_, `Jack', quasi _Jakkes_, `Jack's'" and gives attestations going back to the 1530s, sometimes with variant spellings, _iaques_, _iakes_. I don't know of any present use in formal language or slang of Fr. _Jacques_ that corresponds to `privy', though it can be used to refer to the male sex organ. Historically, the word could be used to refer to a peasant and may have had other uses I am unaware of. But two things might be viewed as circumstantial evidence for a French origin. References to similar entities in France are generally in the plural: les cabinets, les lieux d'aisance, les toilettes. There is a history of trans-Channel borrowings in this domain, apparently to make such references appear somehow more elegant: thus Eng. _toilet_ from French, and Fr. _W.C._ OveseE (water closet) from English. Note, however, that in Louisiana it is singular _le cabinet_. Mike Picone University of Alabama MPICONE[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UA1VM.UA.EDU