jaywalk

Thomas1

Senior Member
polszczyzna warszawska
Jaywalk is labelled as US in the dictionaries I checked, Wikipedia says that in the UK "The term "jaywalking" is not used." what would be used in BE please?
Also is it used in other areas where English is spoken?

Tom
 
  • portoutstarboardhome

    Member
    English - American
    Hi Tom,
    From an American's perspective I'd say that jaywalking generally isn't used because it's legal to cross pretty much any street at any time in the UK. I'm not sure there is another term to be had.
     

    olliemae

    Senior Member
    New Zealand/America, English
    POSH,
    That may be true in Chicago, in Seattle we get tickets for jaywalking. (Not that it stops us.)

    Thomas1,
    I've heard the word used in the UK, and even found it on the BBC website. I think the issue is that it's not illegal over there, but the word is still understood. Perhaps a Brit will correct me...
     

    portoutstarboardhome

    Member
    English - American
    POSH,
    That may be true in Chicago, in Seattle we get tickets for jaywalking. (Not that it stops us.)
    Hmm. Now I don't know which one of us is actually confused on this one. :eek: Here's what I said, minus the part about how I'm not the biggest of experts on BE traffic lingo, being American: "I'd say that jaywalking generally isn't used because it's legal to cross pretty much any street at any time in the UK."

    But no, we don't get tickets for it in Chicago. You're more likely to be clipped by a passing bike messenger. :)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I've heard "jaywalk", of course, and I understand what it means in AmE. But it doesn't have any meaning in BrE.

    We don't have an equivalent "sin".
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Thanks everyone for your answers. :)

    Perhaps, because jaywalking is legal in the UK, and as it seems not only there, there is no need for a counterpart.

    Tom

    PS: welcome to the forums, portoutstarboardhome. :)
     

    Tresley

    Senior Member
    British English
    I would like to know what 'to jaywalk' actually means in the USA. From watching American films on the telly I have the impression that it means 'to cross the road when the "don't walk" sign is displayed'. Is this correct?

    We do use the verb 'to jaywalk' in the UK, but, in my experience of hearing the word used in the UK, I have the impression that over here it means 'to wander about willy-nilly in the road' (often when drunk).

    For example:

    'Dave had a few jars last night and jaywalked the whole way home. It's a wonder he wasn't knocked down'!

    In other words, Dave was so drunk that he staggered about in the road the whole way home.

    Could someone enlighten me?
     

    Gwan

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    I imagine it means (in the US, as here) 'to cross the road any time it is illegal to do so'. Here the law is that you can't cross against the light (i.e. when the little red "don't walk" man is flashing) but also that you can't cross within (I think) 100 metres of an official crossing (zebra or lights). So either of those would be 'jaywalking'. I've never heard of anyone getting a ticket or so on, but it's technically illegal.

    I've never heard the sense Tresley suggests of drunken wandering.
     

    olliemae

    Senior Member
    New Zealand/America, English
    Sorry, POSH, I misread it. :)

    Tresley, Jaywalking simply means crossing the street unlawfully, whether at a red light or in between intersections. In the US we're only allowed to cross at a crosswalk when the light is green (if there is a light).
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Jaywalk does indeed mean "to cross the road unlawfully", such as against the light in a crosswalk, or in a way that interferes with traffic.

    If I were crossing the street in Manchester or Norwich or Liverpool, in a marked crosswalk, directly against the traffic signals, and in a way that nearly caused an accident, what would that be called in England? Might I possibly (I don't mean that it is likely -- I mean is it legally possible) be given a warning or a summons or citation for that action by a police officer? If so, and I was talking about it later, what would I tell my friends the police officer warned/summonsed/cited me for?

    I find it difficult to believe that British law permits pedestrians to wander at will into oncoming traffic while completely disregarding all traffic signals!
     

    Aerio

    Member
    USA
    English, Polish
    Jaywalking warrants a ticket in my university town of Urbana-Champaign.
    I have heard accounts where this has happened; in fact, I once almost got a ticket for using a crosswalk when the light was flashing red.

    Beware!
    Some cops do indeed enforce that law (I was surprised because I've never been caught even after doing it multiple times at university and back at home).
    So just putting it out there, lol.
     

    nzfauna

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    I'm afraid I have to disagree with Gwan regarding NZE.

    The term "jaywalking" is not used in NZ. And I'm pretty sure noone's ever been charged with it.

    NZers are aware of the term from watching American TV, but not many would know what it actually meant. For many years, I thought it meant "crossing the street diagonally". But that was just me inferring a definition, because it is never actually defined on TV.
     

    Full Tilt Boogie

    Senior Member
    British English
    Jaywalk is labelled as US in the dictionaries I checked, Wikipedia says that in the UK "The term "jaywalking" is not used." what would be used in BE please?
    Also is it used in other areas where English is spoken?

    Tom
    Hi Tom,

    The term 'jay-walking' is not used in the UK: it has no legal or vernacular definition or term of reference, and therefore cannot be used in jurisprudence. In the UK, we know the term from watching (as with the rest of the non-American world) from watching/listening to US television and films. I assume, rightly or wrongly (and here we'll have to get input from a native American English speaker) its etymology derives from the unrestricted, walk-where-I-want habits/practises of the jay bird?

    I can't speak for Australia, new Zealand or South Africa, where US lingual influence and spelling has grown largely more accepted since 1974.

    In the UK, if there were to be a judicial charge of incorrect use of a zebra or pelican crossing, it would be precisely that - incorrect use of the allotted road crossing, but I've never heard of anyone being charged with it.
    .
     

    xqby

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    I assume, rightly or wrongly (and here we'll have to get input from a native American English speaker) its etymology derives from the unrestricted, walk-where-I-want habits/practises of the jay bird?
    In the slang of the prior century a jay was a simpleminded or gullible person, especially one from a rural area. Whether or not this in turn came from the bird is anyone's guess.
     

    Full Tilt Boogie

    Senior Member
    British English
    Jaywalking is indeed used in the UK, though it is not an offence.

    Here it means wandering absentmindedly into the road without regard for traffic, not deliberately crossing against a signal as it does in the USA and elsewhere.

    Rover
    I guess it depends on where you live mate. It's certainly not used anywhere I travel (and I travel extensively in the UK) or amongst the people I know.

    Just out of interest, where are you from?
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    So let me repeat my question:

    If I were crossing the street in Manchester or Norwich or Liverpool, in a marked crosswalk, directly against the traffic signals, and in a way that nearly caused an accident, what would that be called in England? Might I possibly (I don't mean that it is likely -- I mean is it legally possible) be given a warning or a summons or citation for that action by a police officer? If so, and I was talking about it later, what would I tell my friends the police officer warned/summonsed/cited me for?
    Following from Kevin's comment above, in England I would be charged with "walking"????

    That doesn't seem right...
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I don't think there's a name for it, GWB. As far as I know, our equivalent of your "Don't Walk" signs are just warnings to pedestrians that, in the interests of safety, they should not start crossing: see here.
     

    Full Tilt Boogie

    Senior Member
    British English
    To Thomas1, Loob and Full Tilt Boogie,

    'Jaywalk' is in my Concise Oxford Dictionary without the AE usage asterisk.

    I'm from Blackburn.

    Rover
    I'm not far from you mate - but never hear the term used outside of US TV and films, and then only by Americans; alhtough given the geographical proximity of the Canadians to the US, it's not surprising to read that they also use the term.

    As for the etymology of the word, I found this: 'Jaywalking'
     

    Gwan

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    I'm afraid I have to disagree with Gwan regarding NZE.

    The term "jaywalking" is not used in NZ. And I'm pretty sure noone's ever been charged with it.

    NZers are aware of the term from watching American TV, but not many would know what it actually meant. For many years, I thought it meant "crossing the street diagonally". But that was just me inferring a definition, because it is never actually defined on TV.
    I'm afraid I have to disagree with you in turn NZF.

    Here is a 2006 article on the subject from TVNZ, entitled 'Call for jaywalking crackdown'. In case you can't be bothered reading it, it also backs up my assertion that it's illegal to cross near a designated crossing - I was wrong on the distance though, it's within 20m of a crossing. The potential fine is $35 but it's not enforced.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Can I perhaps summarise where we are on this thread?

    "Jaywalking" has a very specific meaning in AmE: to cross the road when it is illegal to do so.

    It does not have a similar meaning in BrE, because - except in the case of motorways - it is not illegal to cross the road, whether or not the pedestrian lights are against you.

    The possible exception to this is in Northern Ireland (I'm basing this on the comments on the blog posted earlier).

    For some BrE speakers, the term "jaywalking" has no meaning, other than in an AmE context; for others, it means "wandering on the highway, possibly drunk".

    NZE speakers disagree over whether crossing the road at other than a designated crossing-point is illegal.

    Have I captured it?
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    [...]
    The possible exception to this is in Northern Ireland (I'm basing this on the comments on the blog posted earlier).
    [...]
    Bwaaaaaarrgghhhh!!!!Goodness gracious me.

    Sorry, but I have never heard of this possibility.
    I believe that pedestrians here, like any other road users, may be prosecuted if their behaviour on the road causes or is considered by the police to be likely to cause an accident. It doesn't happen often. There seems little point in prosecuting a pedestrian who has caused an accident by allowing himself to be knocked down by a bus, for example.
    There is no specific offence of jaywalking and I can assure you that lunatic pedestrians here cross the road wherever they like and regardless of the state of the lights, the traffic, the weather or the time of day.
     
    Bwaaaaaarrgghhhh!!!!Goodness gracious me.

    Sorry, but I have never heard of this possibility.
    I believe that pedestrians here, like any other road users, may be prosecuted if their behaviour on the road causes or is considered by the police to be likely to cause an accident. It doesn't happen often. There seems little point in prosecuting a pedestrian who has caused an accident by allowing himself to be knocked down by a bus, for example.
    There is no specific offence of jaywalking and I can assure you that lunatic pedestrians here cross the road wherever they like and regardless of the state of the lights, the traffic, the weather or the time of day.
    The Highway Code for Northern Ireland can be found here: http://www.roadsafetyni.gov.uk/index/highwaycode.htm

    So far as I can see, the section for pedestrians is identical to that in the Highway Code for Britain. There is nothing about jaywalking.

    The point to remember is that the rules in the Highway Codes are not laws in themselves. They often reflect the law, but they go further in their advice and admonishments.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    On the subject of jay-walking in Northern Ireland I found this publication, apparently from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, that warns us that we are liable to suffer zero penalty points on our driving licences for each offence of 'Jay Walking' (offence code 50.08.001). http://www.psni.police.uk/index/dep...ffic_branch)/pg_roadpolicing_offencecodes.htm

    To me, jay-walking is one of the many words that we know well in England, and that we use sometimes, but that are still marked as Americanisms. The Oxford English Dictionary's first example of the term from the US is from 1917, from Australia is 1933, and from the UK is 1937: Times 25 Jan. 8/2 In many streets like Oxford Street, for instance, the jaywalker wanders complacently in the very middle of the roadway as if it was a country lane.

    I wondered why jays are particularly associated with putting oneself at risk on the road. (Maybe we should call it hedgehog-walking here?http://www.hedgehogs.gov.uk/main/main.html) The jay's Latin name is garrulus glandarius (= the noisy creature that likes acorns) http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/j/jay/index.asp and jays are well known for making a lot of noise. According to the OED, jay-walking refers to meaning 3d of the noun jay:
    3. a. An impertinent chatterer. b. A showy or flashy woman; one of light character. c. A person absurdly dressed; a gawk or ‘sight’. d. A stupid or silly person; a simpleton.
     
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