a Jack the lad


Senior Member
vietnam vietnamese
"Well he’s alright but he’s a bit of a Jack the lad.”
Please comfirm.
Does "a Jack the lad" mean "has a lot of girlfriends"?
  • deddish

    Senior Member
    English .ca
    I think there should be a few commas in there... "Well, he's alright, but he's a bit of a Jack, the lad." Meaning that the boy is "a bit of a Jack", which you've probably figured out on your own, but I really don't know what "Jack" signifies. Could be something to do with the card?

    Could be the girlfriend thing. I've never heard it before, as far as I can remember.

    Alternatively, the sentence might be "He's a bit like Jack the lad", as in he reminds the speaker of Jack when Jack was a boy?

    Is there any context?


    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    A bit more context would be helpful.

    The lad seems to be something just added on to the end of the sentence during speech, which describes "he." He (the lad) is a bit of a Jack.
    As for Jack, are you sure it's capitalized? If it is, then the only explanation I can think of is that he is like Jack, whoever Jack is. If it isn't capitalized, it may be a short form for jackass.


    Senior Member
    vietnam vietnamese
    Thank you very much.
    I have no context. I am sorry. Here is what I know about it:
    The other day a friend of mine was describing her new boss and she said:
    “Well he’s alright but he’s a bit of a Jack the lad.”
    What she meant was, he has a lot of girlfriends!


    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    "A Jack the lad" is an established idiom, though not one I hear very often in American English. According to the Free Dictionary:

    a Jack the Lad (British, informal, old-fashioned)a confident and not very serious young man who behaves as he wants to without thinking about other people.
    Three children with three different women? Well, he always was a bit of a Jack the Lad.


    Senior Member
    English, UK
    It's still a fairly common expression in my dialect of British English. As Nun-Translator says, it means a very confident, cocky young man who may well be a bit of a playboy, ie. have lots of girlfriends. It's usual to hear it with 'a bit of a'... like in the original sentence you gave.


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    This is familiar to me as well.
    Often as "He thinks he's Jack the lad."

    colloq., a conspicuously self-assured, carefree, and often brash young man; a ‘chancer’.
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