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See more synonyms for jitney on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural jit·neys.
  1. a small bus or car following a regular route along which it picks up and discharges passengers, originally charging each passenger five cents.
  2. Older Slang. a nickel; five-cent piece.
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verb (used with or without object), jit·neyed, jit·ney·ing.
  1. to carry or ride in a jitney.
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Origin of jitney

1900–05, Americanism; of obscure origin; French jeton jetton is a phonetically implausible source
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for jitney

carriage, taxi, taxicab, hack, jitney, hackney

Examples from the Web for jitney

Historical Examples of jitney

  • Mr. Gunn stopped his machine and came over to the other jitney.

    Four Little Blossoms at Brookside Farm

    Mabel C. Hawley

  • But we can probably catch a jitney or something from Wilkes-Barre.

    Torchy As A Pa

    Sewell Ford

  • His face was as empty of expression, as unmelodramatic, as that of a jitney driver.

    Free Air

    Sinclair Lewis

  • He approached the spot where the girl had been left by the jitney driver.

    Ruth Fielding Down East

    Alice B. Emerson

  • "If he gets in the auto-stage, we might hire a jitney," suggested Fatty.

British Dictionary definitions for jitney


noun US rare
  1. a small bus that carries passengers for a low price, originally five cents
  2. slang a nickel; five cents
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Word Origin for jitney

C20: of unknown origin
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 jitney


"bus which carries passengers for a fare," 1915, short for jitney bus (1906), American English, from gitney, said to be slang for any small coin, especially "a nickel," because the buses' fare typically was a nickel, the coin name perhaps via New Orleans from French jeton "coin-sized metal disk, slug, counter," from Old French jeter "to calculate," literally "to throw" (see jet (v.)).

"I'll give a nickel for a kiss,"
Said Cholly to a pretty miss.
"Skiddo," she cried, "you stingy cuss,"
"You're looking for a jitney buss."

["Jitney Jingle," 1915]

The origin and signification of the word was much discussed when the buses first appeared. Some reports say the slang word for "nickel" comes from the bus; most say the reverse, but there does not seem to be much record of jitney in a coin sense before the buses came along (a writer in "The Hub," August 1915, claims to have heard and used it as a small boy in San Francisco, and reported hearsay that "It has been in use there since the days of '49." In some sources it is said to be a St. Louis word, but most credit it to the U.S. West, especially California, though others trace it to "southern negroes, especially in Memphis" ["The Pacific," Feb. 7, 1915].

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper