Jet Origin and Related Words

Etymology of Jet

The word jet has several different definitions and origins. They are as follows:

  1. noun: stream of water. From French jeter, used with a spout from which
    water or fuel comes. Also, as a verb, to push forth, or fling violently. Jet propulsion
    comes from this definition; jet engines were named such because they used jet propulsion.
  2. verb: prance or strut. From French jeter, meaning “to thrust or throw,”
    from Latin iectare, which was used in place of iactare, which meant
    to toss about.
  3. adjective: deep black. Comes from lignite, a mineral used for ornamentation.
    From Anglo-French geet or Old French jaiet; also comes from Latin
    gagates, and from Greek gagates lithos, which represented the location
    of this mineral.

Today, we most commonly use the word jet as a noun to describe an airplane. You
can also find “jet black” as a color for paints, clothing, dyes, and the like. Many
phrases derive from the word jet; several of them are listed below with accompanying

Phrases stemming from jet

  • jet lag: a sleep disorder due to the disruption of one’s circadian rhythm.
    This disorder results from teh time changes after long trips made on jet
  • jet black: describes a color similar to the minor gemstone “jet;” today it
    is used to mean as dark a shade of black as possible.
  • jet aircraft (commonly, “jet”): an aircraft propelled by jet engines as opposed
    to simple propellers. The Boeing 747 in an example of a jet aircraft.
  • jet fighter/fighter jet: an aircraft made exclusively for combat between
    aircrafts. These fighter jets are different than other aircrafts made for bombing
    or attacks on the ground.
  • jetsam: part of a ship that is thrown overboard (aka jettisoned) to make
    the ship lighter in times of disaster, so as not to sink.
  • jettison: to drop, or perhaps intentionally throw, something out of an aircraft.
  • jet pack: (sometimes rocket belt or rocket pack) a device strapped on to
    a single individual to propel him/her through the air using jet propulsion, either
    fueled by the release of gases or water.
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