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jack

noun; zero derivation
A prioritized lottery system used to allocate scarce resources, such as on-campus rooms or parking spaces. The lottery is conducted so that people of equal priority draw cards and the person who draws the higher card gets first choice of whatever the drawing is for. As a jack is a relatively high card, people may have developed an association between drawing a jack or higher and getting the room they wanted. Over time, as this association builded, jack-or-higher could have been substituted with “jack” and semantically extended to include the lottery procedure itself, rather than a particular card.
 
Etymology : jack
Source : Signs explaining days and procedures for Lovett College's annual room jack, which determines which students get kicked off campus due to the limited supply of rooms.
Last modified: 10 June 2008


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