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adjective Building Trades Slang.
  1. of inferior materials or workmanship.

Origin of jerry1

First recorded in 1875–80; short for jerry-built


noun, plural jer·ries. Chiefly British Slang.
  1. a chamber pot.

Origin of jerry2

1820–30; short for Jeroboam (because if one drank such a large amount of liquid, one would have to void urine during the night)


  1. a male given name, form of Gerald, Gerard, Jeremiah, and Jerome.
  2. a female given name, form of Geraldine.


noun, plural Jer·ries. Older Slang: Sometimes Offensive.
  1. a German, especially a German soldier.
  2. Germans collectively.

Origin of Jerry2

First recorded in 1910–15; Ger(man) + -y1

Usage note

Jerry was a nickname used by Allied soldiers for a German soldier during World War I, but it was more commonly used in World War II.


  1. Benjamin,1738–1820, U.S. painter, in England after 1763.
  2. Jerome AlanJerry, born 1938, U.S. basketball player, coach, and executive.
  3. Mae,1892?–1980, U.S. actress.
  4. NathanaelNathan Wallenstein Weinstein, 1902?–40, U.S. novelist.
  5. Paul,born 1930, U.S. poet, essayist, and novelist, born in England.
  6. Dame RebeccaCicily Isabel Fairfield Andrews, 1892–1983, English novelist, journalist, and critic, born in Ireland.
Related formsan·ti-West, adjectivepro-West, adjective


  1. Charles Brock·den [brok-duh n] /ˈbrɒk dən/, 1771–1810, U.S. novelist.
  2. CliffordBrownie, 1930–56, U.S. jazz trumpeter.
  3. Edmund Gerald, Jr.Jerry, born 1938, U.S. politician: governor of California 1975–83.
  4. Herbert Charles,1912–2004, U.S. chemist, born in England: Nobel Prize 1979.
  5. James NathanielJimmy, born 1936, U.S. football player and actor.
  6. JohnOld Brown of Osawatomie, 1800–59, U.S. abolitionist: leader of the attack at Harpers Ferry, where he was captured, tried for treason, and hanged.
  7. Margaret Wise,1910–52, U.S. author noted for early-childhood books.
  8. Olympia,1835–1926, U.S. women's-rights activist and Universalist minister: first American woman ordained by a major church.
  9. Robert,1773–1858, Scottish botanist.


  1. Jerome JohnJerry, 1942–95, U.S. rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for jerry

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • This from Jerry Tompkins; you have probably no idea how hungry he was at that moment.

  • It had seen its best days, Jerry thought, and so had he, for that matter.

    The Village Watch-Tower

    (AKA Kate Douglas Riggs) Kate Douglas Wiggin

  • Jerry, you honest tradesman, it wouldn't suit your line of business!

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Charles Dickens

  • A carriage with post-horses was ready at the Bank door, and Jerry was booted and equipped.

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Charles Dickens

  • "Ye-es, sir," returned Jerry, in something of a dogged manner.

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for jerry


noun plural -ries
  1. British an informal word for chamber pot
  2. short for jeroboam


noun plural -ries British slang
  1. a German, esp a German soldier
  2. the Germans collectivelyJerry didn't send his bombers out last night


  1. any of various colours, such as those of wood or earth, produced by low intensity light in the wavelength range 620–585 nanometres
  2. a dye or pigment producing these colours
  3. brown cloth or clothingdressed in brown
  4. any of numerous mostly reddish-brown butterflies of the genera Maniola, Lasiommata, etc, such as M. jurtina (meadow brown): family Satyridae
  1. of the colour brown
  2. (of bread) made from a flour that has not been bleached or bolted, such as wheatmeal or wholemeal flour
  3. deeply tanned or sunburnt
  1. to make (esp food as a result of cooking) brown or (esp of food) to become brown
Derived Formsbrownish or browny, adjectivebrownness, noun

Word Origin

Old English brūn; related to Old Norse brūnn, Old High German brūn, Greek phrunos toad, Sanskrit babhru reddish-brown


  1. Sir Arthur Whitten (ˈwɪt ə n). 1886–1948, British aviator who with J.W. Alcock made the first flight across the Atlantic (1919)
  2. Ford Madox . 1821–93, British painter, associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. His paintings include The Last of England (1865) and Work (1865)
  3. George (Alfred), Lord George-Brown. 1914–85, British Labour politician; vice-chairman and deputy leader of the Labour party (1960–70); foreign secretary 1966–68
  4. George Mackay . 1921–96, Scottish poet, novelist, and short-story writer. His works, which include the novels Greenvoe (1972) and Magnus (1973), reflect the history and culture of Orkney
  5. (James) Gordon . born 1951, British Labour politician; Chancellor of the Exchequer (1997–2007); prime minister (2007–10)
  6. Herbert Charles . 1912–2004, US chemist, who worked on the compounds of boron. Nobel prize for chemistry 1979
  7. James . 1933–2006, US soul singer and songwriter, noted for his dynamic stage performances and for his commitment to Black rights
  8. John . 1800–59, US abolitionist leader, hanged after leading an unsuccessful rebellion of slaves at Harper's Ferry, Virginia
  9. Lancelot, called Capability Brown . 1716–83, British landscape gardener
  10. Michael (Stuart). born 1941, US physician: shared the Nobel prize for physiology or medicine (1985) for work on cholesterol
  11. Robert . 1773–1858, Scottish botanist who was the first to observe the Brownian movement in fluids


  1. one of the four cardinal points of the compass, 270° clockwise from north and 180° from east
  2. the direction along a parallel towards the sunset, at 270° clockwise from north
  3. the west (often capital) any area lying in or towards the westRelated adjectives: Hesperian, Occidental
  4. cards (usually capital) the player or position at the table corresponding to west on the compass
  1. situated in, moving towards, or facing the west
  2. (esp of the wind) from the west
  1. in, to, or towards the west
  2. archaic (of the wind) from the west
  3. go west informal
    1. to be lost or destroyed irrevocably
    2. to die
Symbol: W

Word Origin

Old English; related to Old Norse vestr, Sanskrit avástāt, Latin vesper evening, Greek hésperos


noun the West
  1. the western part of the world contrasted historically and culturally with the East or Orient; the Occident
  2. (formerly) the non-Communist countries of Europe and America contrasted with the Communist states of the EastCompare East (def. 2)
  3. (in the US)
    1. that part of the US lying approximately to the west of the Mississippi
    2. (during the Colonial period) the region outside the 13 colonies, lying mainly to the west of the Alleghenies
  4. (in the ancient and medieval world) the Western Roman Empire and, later, the Holy Roman Empire
    1. of or denoting the western part of a specified country, area, etc
    2. (as part of a name)the West Coast


  1. Benjamin. 1738–1820, US painter, in England from 1763
  2. Kanye, born 1977, US rap singer and producer; his albums include The College Dropout (2004) and Graduation (2007)
  3. Mae. 1892–1980, US film actress
  4. Nathanael, real name Nathan Weinstein. 1903–40, US novelist: author of Miss Lonely-Hearts (1933) and The Day of the Locust (1939)
  5. Dame Rebecca, real name Cicily Isabel Andrews (née Fairfield). 1892–1983, British journalist, novelist, and critic
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for jerry



World War I British Army slang for "a German, the Germans," 1919, probably an alteration of German, but also said to be from the shape of the German helmet, which was thought to resemble a jerry, British slang for "chamber pot" (1827), this being probably an abbreviation of jeroboam. Hence jerry-can "5-gallon metal container" (1943), a type first used by German troops in World War II, later adopted by the Allies.



Old English brun "dark, dusky," developing a definite color sense only 13c., from Proto-Germanic *brunaz (cf. Old Norse brunn, Danish brun, Old Frisian and Old High German brun, Dutch bruin, German braun), from PIE *bher- (3) "shining, brown" (cf. Lithuanian beras "brown"), related to *bheros "dark animal" (cf. beaver, bear (n.), and Greek phrynos "toad," literally "the brown animal").

The Old English word also had a sense of "brightness, shining," preserved only in burnish. The Germanic word was adopted into Romanic (e.g. Middle Latin brunus, Italian and Spanish bruno, French brun). Brown Bess, slang name for old British Army flintlock musket, first recorded 1785.



c.1300, "to become brown," from brown (adj.). From 1560s as "to make brown." Related: Browned; browning.



"brown color," c.1600, from brown (adj.).


Old English west "in or toward the west," from Proto-Germanic *wes-t- (cf. Old Norse vestr, Old Frisian, Middle Dutch, Dutch west, Old High German -west, only in compounds, German west), from PIE *wes- (source of Greek hesperos, Latin vesper "evening, west"), perhaps an enlarged form of root *we- "to go down" (cf. Sanskrit avah "downward"), and thus literally "direction in which the sun sets." Cf. also High German dialectal abend "west," literally "evening."

French ouest, Spanish oeste are from English. West used in geopolitical sense from World War I (Britain, France, Italy, as opposed to Germany and Austria-Hungary); as contrast to Communist Russia (later to the Soviet bloc) it is first recorded in 1918. West Indies is recorded from 1550s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

jerry in Medicine


  1. American geneticist. He shared a 1985 Nobel Prize for discoveries related to cholesterol metabolism.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with jerry


In addition to the idioms beginning with brown

also see:


see go west.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.