Jack-in-office

https://pixabay.com/en/control-work-official-form-427510/Jack-in-office is a term primarily used in British English.

A jack-in-office is a self-important, rude, and/or petty minor official (or other person holding some authority). The plural is jacks-in-office.

You may recognise the word from the well-known painting by Edwin Landseer called A Jack in Office, and a character in Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story The Adventure of the Speckled Band calls Sherlock Holmes ‘the Scotland Yard Jack-in-office’.

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6 thoughts on “Jack-in-office

    • I was thinking about this today. We also have jack-of-all-trades (someone who can do many types of work but isn’t necessarily good at any of them) and jack-the-lad (a brash young man who is a bit of a show off).
      I have conducted a very small amount of research and they all seem to have different origins (or suggested origins). The explanation I am leaning towards is that they came into usage at a time when ‘Jack’ was often used as a generic name. Jackanapes was apparently originally Jack Napes and might have been the name for a tame monkey. Jack-the-lad might be based on the nickname of an 18th-century thief called Jack Sheppard (he escaped from prison a lot).
      I feel that I could write an essay on this if I had time to investigate it properly …

      Liked by 1 person

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