English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

While I was reading an article about the etymology of jaywalking, I stumbled upon this phrase:

“Jay” used to be a generic term for someone who was an idiot, dull, rube, unsophisticated, poor, or simpleton.

When did people used to use the term Jay as unintelligent person(or idiot)?

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by Matt E. Эллен, Armen Ծիրունյան, Robusto, tchrist, kiamlaluno Aug 17 '12 at 11:54

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

In the 1620s according to Etymology Online.

share|improve this answer
Your reference say: "Applied to humans in sense of "impertinent chatterer, flashy dresser" from 1620s." I would say this is not entirely the same as what is asked in the question. I would say it needs other answers for when this was taken further to mean "unintelligent person". – awe Aug 3 '12 at 11:44
Surely an impertinent chatterer would be considered unintelligent in the 17th century, a person of education would have known when to speak and when not to, as well as what to speak about and what not to. – Born2Smile Aug 4 '12 at 12:00

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.