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Jaywalking is the act of crossing a street unlawfully, not crossing in the crosswalk or crossing against the light. Related terms are jaywalk, jaywalks, jaywalked, jaywalker. Jaywalking is an American term dating to the early 1900s, when the automobile came into use. Many pedestrians were killed in the United States at the beginning of the automobile age. The automobile industry campaigned to encourage the public to obey traffic laws, one method was to refer to pedestrians who did not look out for automobiles as jay walkers. Jay was a word of derision, describing a country bumpkin, someone unsophisticated. The two words eventually became hyphenated, today the term is rendered as one word, jaywalking.


The problem that I see around Libertyville is people jaywalking across Milwaukee Avenue. (The Chicago Tribune)

After a taxi driver struck a 60-year-old man jaywalking diagonally across an intersection near Horton Plaza on Sunday, police suspect that the pedestrian was drunk. (The Times of San Diego)

“I did not know that there was a penalty for jaywalking,” says Shwetha, an engineering student who walks to college every day. (The New Indian Express)

A New York Times writer in January 1937 complained: “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.” (The Mail Tribune)

The officer tells a person videotaping that the jaywalker — who was not charged — struck his car window with an umbrella and cracked it. (The Boston Herald)

It might be tempting to run across the street when you see a Pokemon lurking in traffic (we may, or may not, have jaywalked), but don’t do it. (The Cape Cod Times)