In a word

April 25, 2011

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word:


In 1358 in the north of France, the oppressed peasntry revolted, against the nobility, looking to slaughter them, and were brutally repressed. This revolt was called the Jacquerie, because the nobles spoke contemptuously of the peasants as Jacques or Jacques Bonhomme "James Goodfellow." (Analogously, in English we get rube for "bumpkin" from the given name Reuben.)

A jacquerie (pronounced zhahk-REE) has come to mean any communal uprising or revolt, especially by an oppressed class.

Since then, the well-off have tossed restlessly in their sleep, worried that the lower orders whom they have exploited might pick up their pitchforks and torches and come around in an ugly mood.

EXAMPLE: In A Tale of Two Cities Madame Defarge says, "Look around and consider the lives of all the world that we know, consider the faces of all the world that we know, consider the rage and discontent to which the Jacquerie addresses itself with more and more of certainty every hour."

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