from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Built cheaply and shoddily.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Built hastily and of bad materials.
  • adj. Developed in an unsystematic or inexpert manner; built haphazardly; -- used of objects, organizations, plans, etc.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Constructed hastily and with flimsy materials.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. of inferior workmanship and materials


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Deep in a disused Amtrak tunnel beneath the west side of Manhattan, homeless men and women inhabited jerry-built huts, living off scraps and siphoning electricity to cook and brighten the way.

    The Subterranean Homelessness Blues

  • If he is not our "worst president," as Donald Trump would have it, his sweeping domestic initiatives—especially his stimulus package and health-care reform—were so jerry-built and high-handed that they generated a virtual revolution in America's normally subdued middle class.

    Obama's Unspoken Re-Election Edge

  • Anyway, this isn't like spraying paint on a bridge, it's like quickly adding an extra, slightly jerry-built span – which I think would be witty, if less deliverable by aerosol.

    Vandalising an old master is bad, but not quite as evil as queue-jumping | David Mitchell

  • Like one of the postwar megastructures Hatherley cherishes, it may be a bit jerry-built in places, but it is bold and original, and it may change how you see British cities.

    A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain by Owen Hatherley – review

  • It's a vast improvement over the jerry-built box speakers through which the New World Symphony used to pipe its concerts to the Lincoln Road Mall.

    Gehry Leaves the Risks to the Kids

  • Although many buildings are no longer made of wood which is too expensive and hard to maintain, Japanese cities still look a little jerry-built, rather like movie sets, as though in anticipation of impermanence—less like Manhattan, more like Los Angeles.

    Japan's Shattered Mirror

  • It was in another jerry-built craft, the 51-foot, three-mast Son of Town Hall, that Mr. Neutrino succeeded in crossing the Atlantic, casting off from Newfoundland with his wife, two companions and three dogs.

    Unmoored on Land, an Adventurer at Sea

  • The early, jerry-built propeller planes transformed into air-cushioned jetliners, then powerful jumbo jets.

    Allison Silver: '20th Century Travel': Faster, Better, Democratized (PHOTOS, POLL)

  • The jerry-built explosive device in the Times Square plot, while dangerous, was described by multiple law enforcement officials and outside experts as of unsophisticated, even amateurish design.

    Police Find Owner of SUV Used in Bomb Plot

  • MARVELS, the Multi-object APO Radial Velocity Exoplanet Large-area Survey, would set a record for jerry-built acronyms and hunt for planets around other stars, partly for the sake of the planets themselves, partly to figure out how solar systems form.

    A Grand and Bold Thing


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  • Wikipedia, citing a couple of sources, says its origin are different than jury-rigged, which it says the OED traces to 1788.

    The alt.usage.english FAQ has an interesting, if ultimately ambiguous, discussion of the two phrases.

    June 28, 2008

  • I read that too! I meant to look it up on the spot, but didn't have a dictionary handy. Where I grew up, CNY, folks always said "jerry-rigged." I think it means the same thing.

    January 23, 2007

  • I never heard this phrase before until today when I came across it in an article in which Middle East historian David Fromkin said he sees "a breakup of the jerry-built nation," when referring to Iraq's bleak future.

    January 22, 2007