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[jer-ee-bilt] /ˈdʒɛr iˌbɪlt/
built cheaply and flimsily.
contrived or developed in a haphazard, unsubstantial fashion, as a project or organization.
Origin of jerry-built
1865-70; jerry (as in jerry-build) + built
Can be confused
jerry-built, jury-rigged.
1. ramshackle, rickety, shoddy, slipshod.


[jer-ee-bild] /ˈdʒɛr iˌbɪld/
verb (used with object), jerry-built, jerry-building.
to build cheaply and flimsily.
1880-85; back formation from jerry-builder. See jerry2, build
Related forms
jerry-builder, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for jerry-built
  • The tenants on the upper floors jerry-built kitchens, gardens, even bathrooms on the rooftops.
  • The trouble is that no such exit now exists, and the one being hastily constructed has a jerry-built feel to it.
  • Well, there is always demolition and construction work in the city, with jerry-built dormitories on site.
  • But there's a jerry-built climax and a prolonged, tiresome post-climax.
  • The country has an antiquated, jerry-built immigration system that fails on almost every count.
  • It drives the specious, the jerry-built the actively hurtful from the market.
  • For all of the time and money that went into it, it's jerry-built, a ship that slides straight to the bottom at its christening.
British Dictionary definitions for jerry-built


verb -builds, -building, -built
(transitive) to build (houses, flats, etc) badly using cheap materials
Derived Forms
jerry-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
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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.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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