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  1. built cheaply and flimsily.
  2. contrived or developed in a haphazard, unsubstantial fashion, as a project or organization.
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Origin of jerry-built

1865–70; jerry (as in jerry-build) + built
Can be confusedjerry-built jury-rigged


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verb (used with object), jer·ry-built, jer·ry-build·ing.
  1. to build cheaply and flimsily.
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Origin of jerry-build

1880–85; back formation from jerry-builder. See jerry2, build
Related formsjer·ry-build·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for jerry-built

Historical Examples

  • Why shouldn't creeds totter when they are jerry-built creeds?

    This Simian World

    Clarence Day

  • The house was new but jerry-built, reeked of drains, and swarmed with vermin.

  • I should say it was built on contract, and jerry-built at that.

  • From her way of saying it, you would have supposed it had been jerry-built last week.

    The Retrospect

    Ada Cambridge

  • It was, I perceive, a jerry-built scheme, run up at short notice.

British Dictionary definitions for jerry-built


verb -builds, -building or -built
  1. (tr) to build (houses, flats, etc) badly using cheap materials
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Derived Formsjerry-builder, noun
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-built


1869, in which jerry has a sense of "bad, defective," probably a pejorative use of the male nickname Jerry (a popular form of Jeremy; cf. Jerry-sneak, mid-19c., "sneaking fellow, a hen-pecked husband" [OED]). Or from or influenced by nautical slang jury "temporary," which came to be used of all sorts of makeshift and inferior objects (see jury (adj.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper