Dictionary.com

Who Is the “Jack” in “Jack-o’-Lantern”?

jack o'lantern, halloween

This week thousands of Americans will scoop out the flesh of a gourd, crudely carve a haunting face into its rind, and stick a candle inside. Then the jack-o’-lanterns will proudly be displayed on porches and stoops. Who or what is this wacky tradition named after?

The British can claim ownership of the original use of the phrase “jack-o’-lantern.” In the 17th century, it referred to a night watchman, a man who literally carried a lantern. (Jack has been a general term for a boy since the 16th century.) But it was also a nickname for strange, flickering lights seen at night over wetlands or peat bogs and mistaken to be fairies or ghosts. This natural phenomenon is also called ignis fatuus, which means “foolish fire,” and will-o’-the-wisp.

By the mid-1800s what was called a “turnip lantern” became known as a jack-o’-lantern. Young boys used these hollowed-out and lit-up gourds to spook people. Irish legend has it that this use of jack-o’-lantern was named after a fellow named Stingy Jack, who thought he had tricked the devil, but the devil had the last laugh, condemning Jack to an eternity of wandering the planet with only an ember of hellfire for light. Immigrants brought the jack-o’-lantern custom to North America, which is where pumpkins were first used to make the Halloween decorations.

Impress fellow partiers this weekend with this fact: a jack-o’-lantern is also the name for an orange fungus. The mushroom Omphalotus olearius is found at the base of hardwood tree stumps, and it is extremely poisonous.

185 Comments

  1. RazerShark -  October 30, 2014 - 7:03 am

    :-P

    Reply
  2. itzmexwkya -  October 28, 2014 - 10:33 am

    hmm….

    Reply
    • RazerShark -  October 29, 2014 - 6:21 am

      hi

      Reply
    • RazerShark -  October 29, 2014 - 7:24 am

      itzmexwkya look up on youtube screen junkie

      Reply
  3. RazerShark -  October 28, 2014 - 10:12 am

    good to know

    Reply
    • itzmexwkya -  October 29, 2014 - 6:22 am

      hello!

      Reply
      • RazerShark -  October 30, 2014 - 6:30 am

        sup

        Reply
  4. A -  October 28, 2014 - 9:51 am

    cool

    Reply
  5. Lalesha -  October 27, 2014 - 8:39 am

    A jack-o’-lantern (sometimes also spelled Jack O’Lantern ) is typically a carved pumpkin. It is associated chiefly with the holiday Halloween, and was named after the phenomenon of strange light flickering over peat bogs, called ignis fatuus or jack-o’-lantern . In a jack-o’-lantern, typically the top is cut off, and the inside flesh then scooped out; an image, usually a monstrous face, is carved onto the outside surface, and the lid replaced. At night a light (commonly a candle) is placed inside to illuminate the effect. The term is not particularly common outside North America, although the practice of carving lanterns for Halloween is.

    Throughout Ireland and Britain, there is a long tradition of carving lanterns from vegetables, particularly the turnip, mangelwurzel, or swede. But not until 1837 does jack-o’-lantern appear as a term for a carved vegetable lantern, and the carved lantern does not become associated specifically with Halloween until 1866. Significantly, both occurred not in Ireland or Britain, but in North America. Historian David J. Skal writes,

    Although every modern chronicle of the holiday repeats the claim that vegetable lanterns were a time-honored component of Halloween celebrations in the British Isles, none gives any primary documentation. In fact, none of the major nineteenth-century chronicles of British holidays and folk customs make any mention whatsoever of carved lanterns in connection with Halloween. Neither do any of the standard works of the early twentieth century.

    In America, the carved pumpkin was first associated with the harvest season in general, long before it became an emblem of Halloween. The poet John Greenleaf Whittier, who was born in 1807, wrote in “The Pumpkin” (1850):

    Oh!—fruit loved of boyhood!—the old days recalling,
    When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
    When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
    Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!

    An old Irish folk tale tells of Jack, a lazy yet shrewd farmer who uses a cross to trap the Devil. One story says that Jack tricked the Devil into climbing an apple tree, and once he was up there Jack quickly placed crosses around the trunk or carved a cross into the bark, so that the Devil couldn’t get down. Another myth says that Jack put a key in the Devil’s pocket while he was suspended upside-down.

    Another version of the myth says that Jack was getting chased by some villagers from whom he had stolen, when he met the Devil, who claimed it was time for him to die. However, the thief stalled his death by tempting the Devil with a chance to bedevil the church-going villagers chasing him. Jack told the Devil to turn into a coin with which he would pay for the stolen goods (the Devil could take on any shape he wanted); later, when the coin/Devil disappeared, the Christian villagers would fight over who had stolen it. The Devil agreed to this plan. He turned himself into a silver coin and jumped into Jack’s wallet, only to find himself next to a cross Jack had also picked up in the village. Jack had closed the wallet tight, and the cross stripped the Devil of his powers; and so he was trapped. In both myths, Jack only lets the Devil go when he agrees never to take his soul. After a while the thief died, as all living things do. Of course, his life had been too sinful for Jack to go to heaven; however, the Devil had promised not to take his soul, and so he was barred from hell as well. Jack now had nowhere to go. He asked how he would see where to go, as he had no light, and the Devil mockingly tossed him an ember that would never burn out from the flames of hell. Jack carved out one of his turnips (which was his favourite food), put the ember inside it, and began endlessly wandering the Earth for a resting place. He became known as “Jack of the Lantern”, or Jack-o’-Lantern.

    There are variations on the legend:

    Some versions include a “wise and good man”, or even God helping Jack to prevail over the Devil.
    There are different versions of Jack’s bargain with the Devil. Some variations say the deal was only temporary but the Devil, embarrassed and vengeful, refuses Jack entry to hell after Jack dies.
    Jack is considered a greedy man and is not allowed into either heaven or hell, without any mention of the Devil.
    In some variations, God gives Jack the turnip

    Despite the colourful legends, the term jack-o’-lantern originally meant a night watchman, or man with a lantern, with the earliest known use in the mid-17th century; and later, meaning an ignis fatuus or will-o’-the-wisp. In Labrador and Newfoundland, both names “Jacky Lantern” and “Jack the Lantern” refer to the will-o’-the-wisp concept rather than the pumpkin carving aspect.

    Reply
    • Evan -  October 29, 2014 - 8:26 am

      Wow long much?

      Reply
    • scooter8398 -  October 29, 2014 - 9:29 am

      how is that poseble i thought pumpkins originated from north amerca

      Reply
  6. karen patrick -  February 3, 2014 - 11:11 pm

    Does this mean that pumpkins originated in North America?

    Reply
    • ender girl -  October 27, 2014 - 3:10 pm

      wo i never thought of that. cool ;P

      Reply
    • ethan greenwalt -  October 28, 2014 - 11:14 am

      i guess so cool lol!!!!

      Reply
    • ethan greenwalt -  October 28, 2014 - 11:14 am

      i guess so cool lol!!!!
      bob

      Reply
  7. Joy -  November 27, 2013 - 7:39 pm

    Coolie!

    Reply
  8. cora reed -  November 26, 2013 - 11:43 am

    the jack in the word jack o’ lantern is the guy that you see with the creepy face.

    Reply
    • Rose -  October 27, 2014 - 12:31 pm

      what guy with the creepy face?

      Reply
    • A -  October 28, 2014 - 9:50 am

      yes and no

      Reply
    • RazerShark -  October 28, 2014 - 10:13 am

      kinda

      Reply
  9. UHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! -  November 21, 2013 - 6:53 pm

    OMG YOU PEOPLE POST A LOT OF STUFF I coULDNT READ THEM ALL IN AN HOUR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
    • jerrett nack -  October 28, 2014 - 11:49 am

      cooooooooooooooooooooooooool

      Reply
  10. I LOVE TREES..."Literally" -  November 12, 2013 - 11:41 pm

    Im a lil late with commenting and years behind to answering others comments..lol..im sharing this cuz many whom commented on the word “Literally” said it was misspelled/ misused, and i believe it was neither. By simply looking up the word helps u understand the word and meaning therefore understanding the story.
    —Usage note
    Since the early 20th century, literally has been widely used as an intensifier meaning “in effect, virtually,” a sense that contradicts the earlier meaning “actually, without exaggeration”: The senator was literally buried alive in the Iowa primaries. The parties were literally trading horses in an effort to reach a compromise. The use is often criticized; nevertheless, it appears in all but the most carefully edited writing. Although this use of literally irritates some, it probably neither distorts nor enhances the intended meaning of the sentences in which it occurs. The same might often be said of the use of literally in its earlier sense “actually”: The garrison was literally wiped out: no one survived.

    Reply
    • kholve -  October 27, 2014 - 1:35 pm

      hello every body i need to know if this story is good or not kk.

      I went to my friend’s house yesterday. His house is bright yellow. It is bright enough to blind me. When I arrived I found out the worst thing imaginable, my worst enemy was sitting on the porch of my friend’s house. I thought to myself, this is going to be the worst possible camping trip I’ve ever have been on. We went into the woods to find places to set up our tent. Sigh. We finally agreed on a spot. It was a wide clearing about a mile into the woods. We knew that coyotes have been seen in this area, but we didn’t think it come within a hundred feet of us.
      Later on that night 9:42 pm
      Jake aka my worst enemy and I had been getting to be friendlier to each other I thought about playing a prank on him just for laughs but I didn’t. Once the others had fallen asleep and I was almost there too, I heard a noise coming from outside. I got out of bed and opened the tent window and peered outside. What do you think I saw, I saw a freaking coyote rustling in the cooler we brought. Seconds later I was trying to wake them up and get out of there, they wouldn’t budge. So I grabbed the Remington Rifle and opened the tent door.
      Outside 10:37 pm BANG! I fired off one round and missed it turned towards me as I got off the second shot. BANG! I hit it in its rear leg. Not good enough I thought to myself.
      It started to sprint towards me. BANG! Bulls eye. I had hit in the middle of its forehead. It fell like bricks and slid 2 more feet and laid still it wasn’t quite dead but almost. I walked into the tent and got a gutter knife and walked back outside. I ran to the coyote and said a prayer over it soul and then shoved the knife into the coyotes neck putting it out of its misery. The funny part was my friends never woke up. It Turned out to be the best camping trip ever!

      Reply
      • Nancy -  October 30, 2014 - 8:14 am

        You’re a fool. Have you ever heard or read any documented true story about a coyote attacking a human being? They are mostly afraid of us and I am certain a well-placed shot ABOVE his or her head would have run the animal away. So happy to continually read about idiots blowing away other living creatures for fun. Shame on you . . .

        Reply
  11. Joshua -  October 29, 2013 - 12:06 pm

    Awesome

    Reply
  12. hvjlvh.vh -  October 29, 2013 - 11:44 am

    lol

    Reply
  13. hvjlvh.vh -  October 29, 2013 - 11:43 am

    I mean kidding :D

    Reply
  14. hvjlvh.vh -  October 29, 2013 - 11:42 am

    duh that waz so NOT interesting. just kinning. :)

    Reply
  15. My name -  October 29, 2013 - 11:24 am

    >.<

    Reply
  16. Random person -  October 29, 2013 - 11:16 am

    I don’t understand?

    Reply
  17. adriana -  October 29, 2013 - 11:03 am

    i love that pic ha ha ha lol

    Reply
  18. LLS LMAOOO -  October 29, 2013 - 11:02 am

    LLS LMAOOOO ……………………. I WAS HERE LLS LMAOOO IS RECBECCA IN THE JACK O LANTER LLS LMAOO ………

    Reply
  19. LA MEXICANA -  October 29, 2013 - 11:01 am

    UMMMMM…………………………….. IDK PROBABLY JACK IS IN THE JACK O LANTER LLS LMAOOO …………………………..

    Reply
  20. rhiannon -  October 29, 2013 - 10:42 am

    its jack the pumpkin king has anyone seen the nightmare before Christmas.!!

    Reply
  21. Sam -  October 29, 2013 - 8:43 am

    I love this

    Reply
  22. alyssa -  October 29, 2013 - 8:23 am

    royals?

    Reply
  23. dont worry bout it -  October 29, 2013 - 8:22 am

    oh. cool.

    Reply
  24. camille -  October 29, 2013 - 6:56 am

    thats so cool!|

    Reply
  25. brianna lancaster -  October 29, 2013 - 6:33 am

    devils make light (fire) devils are just like demons

    Reply
  26. brianna lancaster -  October 29, 2013 - 6:32 am

    i heard that halloween is for the devil

    Reply
  27. Caroline -  October 29, 2013 - 5:15 am

    Anytime I share fun facts at parties, it does the very opposite of impressing them.

    Reply
  28. Commander Mike -  October 29, 2013 - 4:27 am

    That’s great name for those fungus only if they can grow!Any way good intel (information) mate!

    Reply
  29. wolf tamer and tree puncher -  October 29, 2013 - 3:41 am

    Come on, Dictionary.com, you can do better than this. This wasn’t very interesting. Impress us! I was expecting a good scare, but the story about Jack was too short for me to understand it, and it didn’t scare me at all.

    Yes, you can figuratively carry a lantern.

    DarkWingedAngel, I really like your name.

    Reply
  30. LOL -  October 29, 2013 - 3:17 am

    This was really a weird tradition!

    Reply
  31. sandy stalker -  October 28, 2013 - 6:09 pm

    THANK YOU SANDY FOR THAT DELIGHTFUL INFORMATION, NOT LIKE I DIDN’T KNOW THAT BEFORE

    Reply
  32. Swagling -  October 28, 2013 - 3:21 pm

    eyy lmao

    me maties will get a kick out of this one arg

    jk

    WILDCATS

    bye

    Reply
  33. Kool -  October 28, 2013 - 10:31 am

    I think it was informational and that’s what’s important, right?
    Right.
    -kool

    Reply
  34. willowisps -  October 28, 2013 - 10:00 am

    @toranky
    I think they mean that the guy was called a jack’o'lantern…..and he carried a lantern. They are using it correctly in the sense that he was called a jack’o'lantern and actually……carried a lantern.

    Reply
  35. DarkWingedAngel -  October 25, 2013 - 9:32 am

    I never knew Halloween was Irish! Cool!

    hey, #1 Skillet Fan, your name mean you know who Skillet, the hard rock band, right?

    Reply
    • Sye -  October 27, 2014 - 4:46 am

      It is not exclusively Irish. It was common all over the British Isles and different aspects of Halloween come from different countries. It was a kept alive from an ancient celtic festival.

      Reply
    • Thomas -  October 27, 2014 - 11:09 am

      Skillet is EPIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Reply
  36. Kim Pang -  October 25, 2013 - 2:07 am

    It’s quite interesting to know the story behind the “Jack-O-Lantern” name.

    Reply
  37. ImSexyAndImMexican-Irish -  November 3, 2012 - 6:08 am

    Dictionary.Com got it screwed up in its head becauce Halloween is when the ghost, ghouls, and goblins come out and whoever is in a costume, is fine, and who isnt, they get eaten when they are sleeping.
    Thank the irish (whoop! im 100% irish, w/out the accent) for bringing over the pumpkins, and my dad for living in maine so we can make Roasted PumpkinSeeds! Recipe”
    [;;================================================================>
    LONG STAB TO A STUPID DICTIONARY SITE

    Reply
  38. El -  November 1, 2012 - 3:18 am

    The story of ‘Stingy Jack’ is actually longer than the version above. It is as follows:

    One day, Jack was sitting under a tree when the devil managed to get stuck up the tree. Jack rescued the devil, but at a price. His price was that he would not go to hell despite his deserving to. So when it was his time to die, he didn’t go to hell as he should’ve, but he was not able to go to heaven. He had to spend all eternity wandering the earth with hellfire as his sole guide.

    It has been said that there are more like Sting Jack.

    Reply
    • juhi -  May 30, 2014 - 1:58 am

      Cool..
      I m from India and this Halloween fest excites me so much that i cant even express.. I simply wish, sometime i would b able to be a pat of it. Jack O’ lantern, amuses me to the

      Reply
      • juhi -  May 30, 2014 - 2:10 am

        To The

        Reply
        • chololoco -  October 29, 2014 - 7:43 am

          That is legit, bra.

          Reply
  39. Alex -  October 31, 2012 - 9:50 pm

    @toranky The reason why they said that Jack carried a lantern “literally” is because they were referring to the name Jack-O-Lantern… since that IS what they were explaining the whole time. It is possible to figuratively carry and/or be a lantern but that isn’t the point. They were just saying that, instead of it just being a name tacked on to a halloween decoration, there was a boy named Jack who actually carried a lantern.

    Reply
  40. Fluttershy -  October 31, 2012 - 9:44 pm

    /)

    Reply
  41. Des -  October 31, 2012 - 8:31 pm

    WOW A LOT HAVE SCARY STUFF BUT WERES THE CANDY LOL HAPPY HALLOWEEN U WEENIES JK LOL

    Reply
  42. Sheesh -  October 31, 2012 - 6:46 pm

    Thats a nice comment you’ve got there, sandy. Be a shame if dictionary.com deleted it.

    Reply
  43. poptropica -  October 31, 2012 - 2:43 pm

    Get over it, I understand kind of getting frustrated about spelling errors (believe me), but I don’t think it really matters that much. Though it is annoying I agree about all the protests, but nothing you say is going to change it. It is like trying to get an 100 year old to change a religion that he/she has believed all his/her life. Sorry for any spelling mistakes.

    sincerely,
    PAS

    Reply
  44. Zunic -  October 31, 2012 - 8:21 am

    Calm down meppy, nothing will happen to you, unless you walk in the middle of the road and dont pay attention to who’s house you got to.

    Reply
  45. bumbles -  October 31, 2012 - 7:45 am

    If it was brought to North America by the Irish, how did they get it from the British? Huh? Nevermind. Who cares? All commercial junk these days anyhow.

    Reply
  46. asdf -  October 31, 2012 - 3:19 am

    how is that creepys

    Reply
  47. kd7 -  October 30, 2012 - 11:45 pm

    i thought of Jack the Ripper. really cool history on the jack o lantern

    Reply
  48. Speedy -  October 30, 2012 - 4:40 pm

    picture is the creepiest thing

    Reply
  49. hi -  October 30, 2012 - 4:40 pm

    i think that this was lame and so not scary i meanb who would seriously belive this
    ps i like sharpe things too and the ironic thing is my last name is sharpe hahahah

    Reply
  50. rosemelie -  October 30, 2012 - 4:24 pm

    wow!!!!!!!!! did’t see that coming.;/

    Reply
  51. Kendall D. -  October 30, 2012 - 4:10 pm

    i thought this had somin to do with jack the ripper :P

    Reply
  52. angela cauley -  October 30, 2012 - 2:47 pm

    knowledge is truly powerful. so i am glad to have learned this. although i did not need to know about the fungus. thank you very much.

    Reply
  53. Xochitl -  October 30, 2012 - 2:22 pm

    wow that was way too many comments for such a simple story

    Reply
  54. dumpling -  August 16, 2012 - 6:37 am

    Who would have thought a simple, if not entirely accurate, explanation would have generated so much verbiage? Has the world got nothing better to do with it’s time? Apparently not, as I am here as well.

    I venture to suggest to the American population that the lantern is indeed European in origin, as are so many things claimed by your countrymen, and that the original lanterns were carved from turnips, or swedes.

    Reply
  55. Annie Y Mouse -  December 31, 2011 - 4:29 am

    I’ll add my two bits to the discussion of “literally.

    Yes, the usage is not incorrect. But it seems to be poor style. In the context used, and especially that of a night watchman, it is unlikely that “carrying a lantern” could be taken figuratively.

    Compare for example “go to church to get bread”. A religious context would often suggest that is is figurative. If the church were handing out bread, that addition of “literally” would clear up a possible ambiguity.

    I should also say that questions of style are a matter of choice.

    Compare style in writing to style in clothing. A person’s teacher may correct writing style. A person’s friend or relative may correct clothing. But to attempt to correct either of these, particularly in a stranger, and even more so in an anonymous environment like a Internet post, is simply rude.

    Reply
  56. C.M. -  December 30, 2011 - 7:36 pm

    This is awesome. :) Omphalotus olearius… That sounds so pretty to me, but I don’t know why. It almost sounds like a Celtic spell.

    Reply
  57. GodofMasks -  December 30, 2011 - 4:55 am

    @toranky and everybody else who is concerned about dictionary.com and their use of the word “literally”. Did none of you get that you are on a web site that IS a dictionary and that all you would have to do is look the word up to realize it is in fact being used correctly?

    Reply
  58. ponypony -  December 27, 2011 - 7:01 am

    I think its kreepy that someone carried a pumpkin around….. <|:o) <—— bear ina hat :D:D:D:D:D:D

    Reply
  59. Tiffany Stottlar -  February 13, 2011 - 2:18 pm

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    6g6d3jaqj6

    Reply
  60. Thad Szewc -  February 13, 2011 - 9:33 am

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    Reply
  61. Domitila Arrieta -  January 28, 2011 - 7:42 am

    Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed! Very useful info specifically the final part :) I maintain such info much. I had been seeking this particular information to get a while. Thanks a lot and good luck.

    Reply
  62. Sand -  January 27, 2011 - 7:12 pm

    @toranky

    How can dictionary.com be part of “a group of people”?

    Reply
  63. Jayvy -  January 8, 2011 - 3:50 pm

    …What’s with that “AMERICAN” part in there? I’m Canadian, I do it too. =3=

    Reply
  64. bob -  January 8, 2011 - 3:33 pm

    grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr i be the evil pumpkin lantern. raaaaaar blabloobleeblablorgenshnitzel:@

    Reply
  65. Jim-Bob -  January 8, 2011 - 9:44 am

    This is to Toransky as well. Yes one can figuratively carry a lantern. The term is used throughout numerous Old English Folk tales and even old Gospel songs that derived from the days of slavery in which the light of the lantern was representative of God or Jesus who was guiding and protecting them despite their current situation as slaves. Looks like dictionary.com got it right huh toranky?? Quit being such a snob and think before you act.

    Reply
  66. Steven -  January 8, 2011 - 7:55 am

    @toranky: I don’t think Dictionary.com misused the word “literally.” If you read the third definition they give for it – actually; without exaggeration or inaccuracy – you will find that they did not misuse the word.

    Reply
  67. Dan -  January 8, 2011 - 5:11 am

    Cool, story, behind every fairy tale it seems there is a really disturbing origin. And anything can be carried figuratively when making a speach etc. It figures the Irsish brought the story over, they were probably drunk. just kidding. It seems in times of the past when people misunderstood things they made stories about or created traditions to comfort themselvs. Thanks for the story. It doesn’t spoil Halloween for me I don’t wish to wallow in my ignorance. Peace

    Reply
  68. Isaac -  January 7, 2011 - 3:33 pm

    The message below deserves an answer. Yes one can carry a lantern figuratively. Freud did so for Psychoanalysis, Ford for Auto mobile mass production.

    toranky on October 24, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    “Literally carried a lantern”? Can you figuratively carry one? Ironic that dictionary.com is part of the large group of people who misuse “literally.”

    Reply
  69. toranky -  November 2, 2010 - 9:50 pm

    Additionally, thanks anyone to everyone who mentioned the figurative usage because I hadn’t seen it before.

    Reply
  70. toranky -  November 2, 2010 - 9:49 pm

    @Everyone who used the example of carrying a lantern of knowledge and such — while that may be true, I was referring to this particular post. We’re discussing jack o’laterns. They’re actual lanterns.

    @Grrrr – Explain what you mean because “ironic” can mean coincidental, which is how I was using it.

    Reply
  71. butter -  November 2, 2010 - 8:06 am

    @Mark idk that!!!! thnx for tha info

    Reply
  72. Hescque -  November 1, 2010 - 6:39 pm

    U knw @ tymz i do wonder y we spend so much cash on some tradition someone made up without thinking abt it yet they r several pple out there who could do alot with that cash and appreciate..thanx 4 that fact.

    Reply
  73. Jason -  November 1, 2010 - 4:50 pm

    It was named after jack the ripper this article is a hoax lol >.<

    Reply
  74. AMY-LOU -  November 1, 2010 - 9:24 am

    Hey get over it you just ate your own words so please get over it I was in a rush. And you must be so bored with your own life to pay so much time to mine. looks to me like someone has no life!!!!!! :) haha you lamo

    Reply
  75. Colloquially Yours -  November 1, 2010 - 9:21 am

    All of the comments above are either correct or incorrect. Some are merely pusillanimous, and others are not actually comments that offer any help to anyone looking for enlightenment on the topic of Jack O’ Lanterns. Not that I really think the dictionary.com people actually take the time to read all of the comments left on their interesting facts. So, FYI for anyone who comes after and actually wastes all their time reading small minded comments and ponders the reality that majority of America really is that stupid, Dictionary.com did their research to inform the minority that wanted to know part of why the pumpkins are carved into faces and called Jack O’ Lanterns, even if the facts are not as glorious as everyone thought.

    Reply
  76. nyehhhhhhh -  October 31, 2010 - 8:58 pm

    psshhh lies. jack o’lantern originated yes from someone named jack but not in that way. Jack died he was wanted in nor heaven nor hell the devil took pity on him and gave him an ember from hell as jack roamed the earth. He put it inside a turnip and walked for all eternity. Then people began carving pumpkins and putting inside candles as decorations. When immigrants came they brought the tradition with them….At least thats what history channel said on the origins of it lol.

    Reply
  77. Shannon -  October 31, 2010 - 1:55 pm

    Interesting!

    Reply
  78. Sarah -  October 31, 2010 - 1:23 pm

    @meppy. You worry too much, but yes, you’re too old to trick or treat.

    Reply
  79. Get over it -  October 31, 2010 - 9:53 am

    OK enough of the silly cyber-comments on literally or figuratively. And there is a spell checker in FF for those of you that can’t spell for beans.
    Especially those of you that spell pumpkin, pumkin. Geesh. Amy-Lou, the word in reference to humans is ‘their,’ not ‘there.’ Did you flunk English 101?
    IMOHO the article uses the word literally in reference to the fact that is was REALLY a lantern, not a light, a candle, a torch, etc. But a real LANTERN, which is why they said literally a lantern. Their usage and grammar are wrong, yes, but I do not think it was intended to mean,’as opposed to figuratively.’
    I hope that clears this up for those of you that still know how to form a sentence in which every other word is not an abbreviation and aberration of the English language. Like rly,omg!!

    Reply
  80. JustADream...er -  October 30, 2010 - 1:20 pm

    Ha, it’d be funny if it was named after a dude who jacked a lantern. Since it’s a JACK-O-LANTERN, like, JACK a LAN- never mind…

    Reply
  81. Lukealicious -  October 30, 2010 - 1:15 pm

    Oh,I learned this on an episode of “The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy”, where it was Halloween night and that Jack guy with the pumpkin for a head was there too!

    Reply
  82. Damaris Fish -  October 30, 2010 - 11:38 am

    What’s green & Irish & sits out in the backyard all night?
    Paddy O’Furniture
    What’s orange & Irish & sits out on the front porch all night?
    Jack O’Lantern

    Reply
  83. kevinjured -  October 30, 2010 - 11:21 am

    Love Jack-arving but h8 the slimy mess?
    Create A “Halloween Hangover Head”
    1. Use a kitchen bag to cover a ~ 36″x36″ piece of flat wood.
    2. Place pumpkin toward back 1/3 of bag.
    3. Cut out a large frowning “mouth” and add eyes and …
    4. Pull the icky stuff out about 6″.
    5 Sprinkle the ersatz “Vomit” with the awful stuff you know not even your Dad would eat. I’m a Dad, and so recommend, circus peanuts, candy corn and unpackaged Gummi-ANYTHING!.

    Reply
  84. devils-advocate -  October 30, 2010 - 8:19 am

    Everyone seems so disheartened the Jack O’Lantern actually means orange fungus. What were you guys expecting? All Celebratory decor and what-not stem from some fantastic legend, hence “Stingy Jack”, that was sparked from some mundane term way back when.

    Reply
  85. mart -  October 30, 2010 - 6:44 am

    I know some friends who found bright orange mushrooms on a tree stump—and said they were wonderful and tasted like chicken…??

    Reply
  86. Grrrr -  October 30, 2010 - 3:00 am

    @toranky
    ‘Ironic that dictionary.com is part of the large group of people who misuse ‘literally’.
    Humorous coincidence that such a pedant is among the large group of people who misuse the word ‘irony’.

    Reply
  87. Nicole -  October 30, 2010 - 12:52 am

    Now i understand! Thanks to the comment above me!hahahaha

    Reply
  88. Fangblade -  October 30, 2010 - 12:33 am

    nice article. wonder who wrote it

    Reply
  89. Carrie -  October 29, 2010 - 11:44 pm

    I’d love to know how “ancient druids” could carve pumpkins, considering pumpkins are native to Mexico and didn’t exist in Europe until the age of exploration, though really, the big question is, how stupid can someone be to believe such utter crap?

    Reply
  90. Pianist -  October 29, 2010 - 4:02 pm

    well,the story is true, but this is how it goes:
    Jack was a stingy misanthrope. One time, when he was about to die, the devil came to him. Jack managed to trap the Devil in his wallet with a silver cross. Then he changed. He became amiable and went to church to pray. So one day, the Devil asked him what can he do to be free. Jack says,” Never receive my soul.” the Devil agrees and is let go. When Jack dies, he is rejected by Saint Peter and is told to go to Hell. But when he reaches the gates, the Devil said he will not receive his soul. So Jack is cursed to roam the earth with a lantern.

    Reply
  91. Troy -  October 29, 2010 - 9:50 am

    @Mark V. I think the word literally was used because there is a jack o lantern and literally a lantern that one uses as a lantern.

    Reply
  92. Victoria -  October 29, 2010 - 3:46 am

    anybody wo types in all capitals is super annoying and start learning entire words(A$$HOLE)

    Reply
  93. cc -  October 28, 2010 - 3:48 pm

    i tink the pic of the punkin is scaryer ten ta paragraph

    Reply
  94. Anon Y. Mous -  October 28, 2010 - 10:00 am

    I often wonder how such ignorance can be blatantly displayed on websites that are just trying to impart information. So what if you think they are just random nonsensical facts? They are little pieces of information that someone is happy to learn. Don’t be and act ignorant, people!

    Reply
  95. Tara -  October 27, 2010 - 6:59 am

    amybe Jack is a dude who invented Halloween so they carved his face into a pumpkin and put a candle in it. and so the Jack-o-lantern was born!!

    or they stuffed a guy named Jack’s head into a pumpkin a set it on fire.

    Reply
  96. Liyah -  October 25, 2010 - 8:12 pm

    hahaha lolxz@Dee!!!! IDK WHY EITHER!! BUT HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!!!!!!

    –LIYAH–

    Reply
  97. Westin -  October 25, 2010 - 7:45 pm

    i used to always to think that Halloween was a day of the dead when demons came out and fed on the weak… and now its when free candy is being handed out if ur dressed up as a superhero or something… i think the demons just gave up

    Reply
  98. pickle -  October 25, 2010 - 7:27 pm

    omg that is crazy!

    Reply
  99. Desi -  October 25, 2010 - 7:11 pm

    @toranky: Since being a night watchmen doesn’t necessitate carrying a lantern, Dictionary.com is perfectly justified using the word “literally” to point out that these “jack-o’-lanterns” literally carried them. Sorry, Charlie. ;)

    Reply
  100. u dont need to know -  October 25, 2010 - 6:39 pm

    who celebrates halloween these days?? isn’t it like myth for little kids to believe in??

    Reply
  101. ilovesharpthings -  October 25, 2010 - 6:28 pm

    !;;!=l===> mini stab…:)

    Reply
  102. Im Bad -  October 25, 2010 - 6:07 pm

    I thought it was Jack O’Nicholson. Didn’t he play a psychotic pumpkin once?

    toranky on October 24, 2010 at 11:34 pm
    “Literally carried a lantern”? Can you figuratively carry one? Ironic that dictionary.com is part of the large group of people who misuse “literally.”

    shan on October 25, 2010 at 12:57 am
    ya, i think so too! XD

    SqiushyPumpkin on October 25, 2010 at 2:32 am
    The devils rather mean.

    maggie on October 25, 2010 at 3:05 am
    cool now i know that jack-o-lantern is a nice name for deadly fungus

    Nikki on October 25, 2010 at 3:10 am
    Hehe. Not your best effort Hot Word, but whatever. It’s OK…but it isn’t as good as the others I’ve seen! Literally. Impress the people out there

    -Nicola

    Michael Dadona on October 25, 2010 at 3:33 am
    Feeling good knowing it’s all started from Irish immigrants.

    Who is the “Jack” in “Jack O’ Lantern?” « NSClive’s Blog on October 25, 2010 at 5:40 am
    [...] I never how the name came about, this was interesting. Amplify’d from hotword.dictionary.com [...]

    Amy-Lou on October 25, 2010 at 5:54 am
    Wow!!!!!!! When I was little my grandmother told me that people would put jack o lanterns in there front yards and on there porches to scare away demons like vampires and witches and other things that go bump in the night.

    MATT on October 25, 2010 at 6:22 am
    COOL

    blarg on October 25, 2010 at 6:27 am
    BLARG I IS TEH MONSTER PUMPKIN MAN

    BBBBBBBLLLLLLAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Dont worry about it (: on October 25, 2010 at 6:49 am
    This Is Booty (:
    lol ;D
    Jack O’Latern Is Fakeee !!!!!! (:

    christen on October 25, 2010 at 6:50 am
    Haha Cyberquill (comment before mine), good one.

    Interesting bit o’lantern. Good to know.

    Nathan Hunter on October 25, 2010 at 7:07 am
    That is so common knowledge. But the jack o lantern is just one of the very complicated legends of halloween.

    ali on October 25, 2010 at 7:21 am
    i think it cool

    #1 Skillet Fan on October 25, 2010 at 7:27 am
    didn’t know that. Thanks dictionary.com

    not too soon to say good bye yet before long on October 25, 2010 at 7:37 am
    my head is getting clearer.

    robert on October 25, 2010 at 7:56 am
    This was pretty cool fact but i found to just call them pumpkins

    Double Rainbow on October 25, 2010 at 7:56 am
    What does this mean so bright so vivid double rainbow so intense tense

    -.-$^Taylor Gang^$-.- on October 25, 2010 at 8:00 am
    “A jack-o’-lantern is also the name for an orange fungus. The mushroom Omphalotus olearius is found at the base of hardwood tree stumps. It is extremely poisonous.”….Wow

    karina on October 25, 2010 at 8:09 am
    I like you punkim dud.

    Britt R Grater on October 25, 2010 at 12:08 pm
    haha nices all of you. I think it’s kind of redundant, though. a lot of these facts are kind of strange and aren’t all that interesting. Jack o lantern = orange fungus…

    1… 2… 3… 4… 5…

    jack o lanterns…. oh wait, what? What was it again?
    Exactly.
    It’s just not that impressive, sorry.

    lol blarg? That was so funneh!! xD

    Sarah on October 25, 2010 at 12:15 pm
    I didn’t know it was an Irish tradition.

    And to the commenter wondering if one could figuratively carry a lantern… I think that’s possible. After all, “carry a torch” is used non-literally all the time.

    Michael on October 25, 2010 at 12:36 pm
    @toranky: Yes, I think you can figuratively carry a lantern. For example, in the context of carrying the light of knowledge to others.

    Mark on October 25, 2010 at 12:57 pm
    This isn’t accurate. In all reality, this is a demonic practice. The ancient druids of the British Isles started this custom. They would carve creepy (usually disfigured) faces into pumpkins to represent the demon that controlled them. When this tradition was brought to America from Ireland in the 1900’s,it endured many manipulaions until it became the [seemingly] harmless fun it is today. :/

    Susan on October 25, 2010 at 1:16 pm
    Maybe figuratively carrying a lantern is like figuratively carrying a torch, just a little less? “I’ll always carry a lantern for my high school sweetheart.”

    Therefore, literally carrying a lantern is ok?

    I am just figuratively throwing it out there.

    i am the ultimate master of all good bad evil mean ugly rightous cool glorious and even the unfair little imps of h i double rainbows !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ahahhhhhhhhhahahahahhahahah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! on October 25, 2010 at 1:39 pm
    well i dont celebrate Halloween and i really dont get why people cant call them pumpkins thats all they are.
    P.S. I cant spell hallaween and !;;!==|===========> STAB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    dee on October 25, 2010 at 1:40 pm
    ummm ok y does dictionary have 2 suck the life out of a fun pumkin thing on halloween? WOW

    Im Bad on October 25, 2010 at 6:06 pm
    Deadly fungus?! Thanks for sharing! Who the hack do you think you are!

    Im Bad on October 25, 2010 at 6:06 pm
    Deadly fungus?! Thanks for sharing! Who the hack do you think you are! Maybe figuratively carrying a lantern is like figuratively carrying a torch, just a little less? “I’ll always carry a lantern for my high school sweetheart.”

    Therefore, literally carrying a lantern is ok?

    I am just figuratively throwing it out there.

    Reply
  103. Im Bad -  October 25, 2010 - 6:06 pm

    Deadly fungus?! Thanks for sharing! Who the hack do you think you are! Maybe figuratively carrying a lantern is like figuratively carrying a torch, just a little less? “I’ll always carry a lantern for my high school sweetheart.”

    Therefore, literally carrying a lantern is ok?

    I am just figuratively throwing it out there.

    Reply
  104. Im Bad -  October 25, 2010 - 6:06 pm

    Deadly fungus?! Thanks for sharing! Who the hack do you think you are!

    Reply
  105. wolfgirl55 -  October 25, 2010 - 6:02 pm

    I never knew that… :{}

    Reply
  106. aussie -  October 25, 2010 - 5:44 pm

    who really cares….

    Reply
  107. abhijeet -  October 25, 2010 - 5:41 pm

    lol i thought is was for decoaration but why did the dictionary have to be such a bummer

    Reply
  108. SUP? :) -  October 25, 2010 - 5:40 pm

    i hate the story XP

    Reply
  109. Meppy -  October 25, 2010 - 5:37 pm

    P.S I don’t trick or treat not because I am old I am just 12 so yeah, but the reason why I don’t is because I might get shot if the person opens the door with a gun and yeah or I might get runover by a car behind orrrrrrrr I am going to be sniped or stolen!

    Reply
  110. Meppy -  October 25, 2010 - 5:35 pm

    Jack O’ lantern is like this jackolantern… JACKOL???

    Reply
  111. faith -  October 25, 2010 - 4:51 pm

    Wow this dictionary.com is cool with its weekly facts or daily i dont know.

    Reply
  112. BLAH -  October 25, 2010 - 4:49 pm

    RRRAAANNNDDDOOOMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  113. random -  October 25, 2010 - 4:46 pm

    WHAT PERSON CARRYS AROUND A PUMPKIN ALL DAY??????
    THAT IDEA GIVES ME THE CREEPS!!!!!!!!!!!!LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL

    Reply
  114. NICOLE -  October 25, 2010 - 4:37 pm

    id rather call it pumkin

    Reply
  115. Zach -  October 25, 2010 - 4:37 pm

    toranky- Your right, you can’t figuratively carry a lantern =P. I spent 5 minutes thinking about that, but a couldn’t think of a way you could. Dictionary.com FAILED. ~ But other than that, it was good, although random, information.

    Reply
  116. alleison -  October 25, 2010 - 4:30 pm

    turnips… rather small to put a candle in, right?

    Reply
  117. Tas -  October 25, 2010 - 3:58 pm

    that is so hard to believe!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  118. Jonno -  October 25, 2010 - 3:51 pm

    Rosemay Sutcliff wrote a novel called ‘The Lantern Bearers’ concerning the withdrwal of Roman troops from Britain in the fifth century. The title comes from a remark made by one of the characters, “We are the lantern bearers, my friend; for us to keep something burning, to carry what light we can forward into the darkness and the wind”. He is not referring to a literal lantern here, so yes, it is possible to figuratively carry a lantern.

    Reply
  119. Alex -  October 25, 2010 - 1:51 pm

    i thought it was the classic rime, Jack jumped over the candlestick, key word: CANDLESTICK this helps pretty good and its funny because i have a report to do on the all time famous: JACK O LANTERN! bye

    Reply
  120. I'mAwesome -  October 25, 2010 - 1:51 pm

    Ithink it’s weird. wat’s a pumpkin to b afraid of? seriously?

    Reply
  121. destiny -  October 25, 2010 - 1:50 pm

    that is very cool very cool but Cyberquill you are funny really funny!!!!

    Reply
  122. JACK ‘O LANTERN | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  October 25, 2010 - 1:49 pm

    [...] “JACK ‘O LANTERN” is his name — not surprising twas the Irish brought to the States his fame. — The question we’d put forth though — in questioning the source though — which came first: The Halloween future diabetic tradition or the poisonous orange fungus condition — that all immigrants to these shaky shores must face. — The hysterics eventually dry up — though the Mexicans Northward they try up — with no ocean to cross to come up to this place. — It’s the economic freedom of the drug trade, so it seems, we needum — with misdirection while we conquer the Mideast. — From there the opiates that fly in — smoke and mirrors and all souls become the buyin. — Why not celebrate Miss Liberty’s Great Lantern and legalize the drug feast and tax the Jack. — “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore; Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” November 2, 1883 Emma Lazarus (1849 – 1887) — and oh how times have changed. –>>Rupert L.T.Rhyme [...]

    Reply
  123. dee -  October 25, 2010 - 1:40 pm

    ummm ok y does dictionary have 2 suck the life out of a fun pumkin thing on halloween? WOW

    Reply
  124. i am the ultimate master of all good bad evil mean ugly rightous cool glorious and even the unfair little imps of h i double rainbows !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ahahhhhhhhhhahahahahhahahah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! -  October 25, 2010 - 1:39 pm

    well i dont celebrate Halloween and i really dont get why people cant call them pumpkins thats all they are.
    P.S. I cant spell hallaween and !;;!==|===========> STAB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  125. Susan -  October 25, 2010 - 1:16 pm

    Maybe figuratively carrying a lantern is like figuratively carrying a torch, just a little less? “I’ll always carry a lantern for my high school sweetheart.”

    Therefore, literally carrying a lantern is ok?

    I am just figuratively throwing it out there.

    Reply
  126. Mark -  October 25, 2010 - 12:57 pm

    This isn’t accurate. In all reality, this is a demonic practice. The ancient druids of the British Isles started this custom. They would carve creepy (usually disfigured) faces into pumpkins to represent the demon that controlled them. When this tradition was brought to America from Ireland in the 1900′s,it endured many manipulaions until it became the [seemingly] harmless fun it is today. :/

    Reply
  127. Michael -  October 25, 2010 - 12:36 pm

    @toranky: Yes, I think you can figuratively carry a lantern. For example, in the context of carrying the light of knowledge to others.

    Reply
  128. Sarah -  October 25, 2010 - 12:15 pm

    I didn’t know it was an Irish tradition.

    And to the commenter wondering if one could figuratively carry a lantern… I think that’s possible. After all, “carry a torch” is used non-literally all the time.

    Reply
  129. Britt R Grater -  October 25, 2010 - 12:08 pm

    haha nices all of you. I think it’s kind of redundant, though. a lot of these facts are kind of strange and aren’t all that interesting. Jack o lantern = orange fungus…

    1… 2… 3… 4… 5…

    jack o lanterns…. oh wait, what? What was it again?
    Exactly.
    It’s just not that impressive, sorry.

    lol blarg? That was so funneh!! xD

    Reply
  130. Zeofar -  October 25, 2010 - 9:29 am

    How could someone figuratively carry a lantern? Easily. “Jack, raising the minds of the superstitious village folk out of horror with his simple language, lifted a lantern to the darkness that seemed to lurk around around them and explained that it wasn’t really there, let alone the things that might have lurked in it.” Education, enLIGHTenment, and explanation can be seen as “bringing light to an issue” in a figurative way. There are certainly other ways that you could figuratively carry a lantern that might come to mind on Halloween: “a ghostly light seemed to hover around outstretched limb of the otherwise dark figure as if it carried an ever-burning torch.” There are still others, and I ask you to figure them out; no need to get snippy that The Hot Word is using “literally” incorrectly.

    Reply
  131. Mark V -  October 25, 2010 - 9:23 am

    “Literally carried a lantern”? Can you figuratively carry one? Ironic that dictionary.com is part of the large group of people who misuse “literally.”
    Yes, you can figurativly carry a lantern.

    Reply
  132. English Major -  October 25, 2010 - 9:08 am

    Yes, you can figuratively carry the lantern of knowledge to help othes understand the difference between literal and figurative.

    Reply
  133. Plato -  October 25, 2010 - 9:00 am

    If memory serves me right, the term
    Jack O’Lantern named after Jack Palance – remember him? He looked like a Jack O’Lantern in all the movies that he made. I sit to be corrected.

    Reply
  134. michael -  October 25, 2010 - 8:49 am

    jk guys this is rly cool actually very interesting info

    Reply
  135. karina -  October 25, 2010 - 8:09 am

    I like you punkim dud.

    Reply
  136. -.-$^Taylor Gang^$-.- -  October 25, 2010 - 8:00 am

    “A jack-o’-lantern is also the name for an orange fungus. The mushroom Omphalotus olearius is found at the base of hardwood tree stumps. It is extremely poisonous.”….Wow

    Reply
  137. Double Rainbow -  October 25, 2010 - 7:56 am

    What does this mean so bright so vivid double rainbow so intense tense

    Reply
  138. robert -  October 25, 2010 - 7:56 am

    This was pretty cool fact but i found to just call them pumpkins

    Reply
  139. not too soon to say good bye yet before long -  October 25, 2010 - 7:37 am

    my head is getting clearer.

    Reply
  140. #1 Skillet Fan -  October 25, 2010 - 7:27 am

    didn’t know that. Thanks dictionary.com :)

    Reply
  141. ali -  October 25, 2010 - 7:21 am

    i think it cool

    Reply
  142. Nathan Hunter -  October 25, 2010 - 7:07 am

    That is so common knowledge. But the jack o lantern is just one of the very complicated legends of halloween.

    Reply
  143. christen -  October 25, 2010 - 6:50 am

    Haha Cyberquill (comment before mine), good one.

    Interesting bit o’lantern. Good to know.

    Reply
  144. Dont worry about it (: -  October 25, 2010 - 6:49 am

    This Is Booty (:
    lol ;D
    Jack O’Latern Is Fakeee !!!!!! (:

    Reply
  145. blarg -  October 25, 2010 - 6:27 am

    BLARG I IS TEH MONSTER PUMPKIN MAN

    BBBBBBBLLLLLLAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  146. MATT -  October 25, 2010 - 6:22 am

    COOL

    Reply
  147. Amy-Lou -  October 25, 2010 - 5:54 am

    Wow!!!!!!! When I was little my grandmother told me that people would put jack o lanterns in there front yards and on there porches to scare away demons like vampires and witches and other things that go bump in the night.

    Reply
  148. Michael Dadona -  October 25, 2010 - 3:33 am

    Feeling good knowing it’s all started from Irish immigrants.

    Reply
  149. Nikki -  October 25, 2010 - 3:10 am

    Hehe. Not your best effort Hot Word, but whatever. It’s OK…but it isn’t as good as the others I’ve seen! Literally. Impress the people out there :)

    -Nicola

    Reply
  150. maggie -  October 25, 2010 - 3:05 am

    cool now i know that jack-o-lantern is a nice name for deadly fungus

    Reply
  151. devashri -  October 25, 2010 - 1:07 am

    nice one, but are not pumpkins used anymore?

    Reply
  152. shan -  October 25, 2010 - 12:57 am

    ya, i think so too! XD

    Reply
  153. 23 -  October 25, 2010 - 12:26 am

    ..scary

    Reply
  154. toranky -  October 24, 2010 - 11:34 pm

    “Literally carried a lantern”? Can you figuratively carry one? Ironic that dictionary.com is part of the large group of people who misuse “literally.”

    Reply
  155. Bonedi -  October 24, 2010 - 10:55 pm

    …hmmm

    Reply
  156. Cyberquill -  October 24, 2010 - 9:56 pm

    I thought it was Jack O’Nicholson. Didn’t he play a psychotic pumpkin once?

    Reply

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