I often hear people say “I’m jonesing for a Kit-Kat bar,” or “I have a Jones for a Kit-Kat bar,” meaning that they crave it. How the hell did this phrase come to be? Who was Jones?

Jughead, of course. Didn’t you every read Archie?

According to my slang dictionary, Jones or Jonesing originally referred to a drug habit- that is, Jonesing was needing to get a hit.

My WAG is that it then evolved from referring to just drugs to anything that the speaker craves.

No idea about the actual reason behind Jones, though. Some drug slang is… well, undecipherable. Perhaps since Jones is such a common name it was designed to be innocuous.

I always thought the expression was related to “Keeping Up
With the Joneses”…i.e. you wanted to have the same (or
better) stuff as your next door neighbor. So, if they
had a Kit Kat bar, and you didn’t, well, you were jonesing
for one. Of course, I could be completely wrong…


markle9 is right. Hip-hop proliferated slang.

According to my memory, and a few minutes of internet research (try putting ‘Jones’ in a search engine ;)), Jones in this context goes back at least to the 1950’s, according to The Word On The Street:

I also remember William Burroughs using the term Jones to mean both the drug opium, and the yearning for it. I still couldn’t come up with the actual etymology of it, but like a lot of slang, that may be lost to time.


Haven’t you ever heard the Cheech and Chong song “Basketball Jones”?

William S. Burroughs use in “Naked Lunch” would take us back to 1959, when it was first published.

Well established by the 60’s.

“Got a jones, running in my bones” - Curtis Mayfield lyric from the movies “Superfly” in 1972, which is about of the same vintage as the Cheech and Chong reference.

As for “Keeping Up with the Joneses”, I will bet it followed a separate etymological path. WAG: from Vance Packard’s “The Status Seekers” in the 1950’s?

The OED says that “keeping up with the Jones” originated in the U.S. and it cites an example from 1913. It’s almost certainly unrelated to the term “Jones” in the meaning of an addiction.

Let’s not forget the usage of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones:

“He didn’t rob me for food it wasn’t hunger but a jones”

So apparently this remarkably transformational word can be used in many ways and placements.

I guess I was just hallucinating when I heard that back in the 70’s.

Wait, I was hallucinating back in the 70’s!

::walks away singing::

Coach done kicked me off the basketball team…