They were holding an examination of aspirants for the position of principal of a colored grade school in Louisville. One of the most promising candidates for the vacancy was a small yellow man, who wore shiny, gold-rimmed spectacles, and bore himself with that air of assurance, which learning sometimes imparts.
The superintendent of the public school system was sounding the qualifications of this person. The subject was syntax. The inquisitor would choose a word at random from the lexicon and the applicant would give his conception of its proper definition.
Out of a clear sky, so to speak, the superintendent sped this one: “Jeopardy.”
The candidate froze stiff. His eyes rolled in his head as he recoiled from the shock.
“Which?” he inquired softly.
“I believe you said ‘jeopardy,’ didn’t you, suh?” said the little yellow man, still sparring for time.
“Certainly, ‘jeopardy.’ You know the word, don’t you?”
“Oh, yas, suh, fluently.”
“Well, then, since you are familiar with it, what is your understanding of it’s meaning?”
Like a man preparing to dive from a great height into vastly depths the candidate took a deep breath. Then gallantly he leaped headlong.
“Well, suh,” he stated, “in reply to the question just propounded I should say that ‘jeopardy’ would properly refer to any act committed by a jeopard.”
He got the job on the spot.
Taken from “A laugh a day keeps the doctor away” by Irvin S. Cobb