Over on Facebook, my brain popped up the bit of useless information that once upon a time, I’d stumbled upon a definition in the OED of my first name, “jeff,” as a noun. I realized that hey, one of the privileges of my academic employment is access to the online OED via our library…and so, off I went, to verify whether I’d hallucinated this peculiar definition. Hurrah, I had not.
The definition offered is that jeff is “printers’ slang” meaning “To throw or gamble with quadrats as with dice.” A quadrat, in this sense, is basically a small block of metal used for spacing. So, basically, my name means tossing around blanks.
Turns out jeff is also a noun, in two different senses. The first one (historically) is attested as “circus slang” (!) and means, simply, “rope.” The second one derives from the name “Jefferson Davis” and is African-American slang meaning a hick or a bore…with derived terms “jeff artist” and (presumably the sort of headwear a hick or bore would wear) a “jeff hat.”
All of this should prove to be convenient for anyone wishing to insult me, since for the most part, all they have to do is use my name!