jack of all trades (plural jacks of all trades)
- (idiomatic) One competent in many endeavors, especially one who excels in none of them.
- 1618, Geffray Minshull, Essayes and characters of a prison and prisoners, p. 50:
- Now for the most part your porter is either some broken cittizen, who hath plaid Jack-of-all-trades, some pander, broker, or hangman, that hath plaid the knaue with all men, and for the more certainty his embleme is a red beard, to which facke hath made his nose cousin german.
- 1861, Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, ch. 25:
- "I am my own engineer, and my own carpenter, and my own plumber, and my own gardener, and my own Jack of all Trades," said Wemmick.
- 1912, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Where There's A Will, Ch. 5:
- A fellow can always get some sort of a job—I was coming up here to see if they needed an extra clerk or a waiter, or chauffeur, or anything that meant a roof and something to eat—but I suppose they don't need a jack-of-all-trades.
one competent in many endeavors
- Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings, Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996)
- Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins, William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988)
- “Re: Jack”, ESC, The Phrase Finder, April 13, 2000