jitney

[jit-nee]

noun, plural jit·neys.

a small bus or car following a regular route along which it picks up and discharges passengers, originally charging each passenger five cents.
Older Slang. a nickel; five-cent piece.

verb (used with or without object), jit·neyed, jit·ney·ing.

to carry or ride in a jitney.

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. 2019

Related Words for jitney

carriage, taxi, taxicab, hack, jitney, hackney

Examples from the Web for jitney

Historical Examples of jitney


British Dictionary definitions for jitney

jitney

noun US rare

a small bus that carries passengers for a low price, originally five cents
slang a nickel; five cents

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
n.

"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].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper