jack·al (jăkəl, -ôl′)
1. Any of several mammals of the genus Canis of Africa, Asia, and southeast Europe, that are chiefly foragers feeding on plants, small animals, and occasionally carrion.
a. One who seeks to gain advantage or profit from the difficulties of another.
b. One who performs menial tasks for another.
[Turkish çakal (influenced in English by JACK, man, fellow), from Persian šaghāl, from Middle Indic sigāl, from Sanskrit śṛgālaḥ, of unknown origin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.