Definition of jerry-built in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈjerē ˌbilt/


Badly or hastily built with materials of poor quality.
Example sentences
  • The works, while clear, are also ambiguous; a number look ramshackle, jerry-built, jumbled - even chaotic.
  • One friend in the Humvee was already dead from the blast of the jerry-built 90 mm mortar round, and one would die later.
  • In contrast, say, to the Museum of Scotland, the new parliament building is going up as fast as a block of jerry-built flats.
shoddy, makeshift, badly built, gimcrack, flimsy, insubstantial, rickety, ramshackle, crude, chintzy;



Example sentences
  • This sort of pain is just what we would expect from natural selection, which is a jerry-builder.
  • People needed housing, and providing this was left to jerry-builders who put together cheap, insufficient, flimsy dwellings that soon fell into disrepair.
  • The whole of the belt of north and west Northumberland has been little changed through the centuries - it has not been desecrated either by the jerry-builder or by the spread of industry.


Pronunciation: /ˈjerē ˌbildiNG/
Example sentences
  • Yet many of these cathedrals looked grander than they were, and design faults, or perhaps jerry-building, caused a number of fiascos.
  • If there was jerry-building, it was more likely to have been the result of haste - the impossible demands of an impatient emperor.
  • If the apprentice was caught doing any jerry-building he would find it at his feet knocked down with a hammer.


Mid 19th century: origin unknown; sometimes said to be from the name of a firm of builders in Liverpool, or to allude to the walls of Jericho, which fell down at the sound of Joshua's trumpets (Josh. 6:20).

  • Poorly built houses have been described as jerry-built since the mid 19th century. The term is nothing to do with Jerry, a derogatory name for a German, probably based on the word ‘German’, that came out of the First World War. One suggestion is that jerry-built comes from the name of a firm of builders in Liverpool, or it may allude to the walls of Jericho, which in the biblical story fell down at the sound of Joshua's trumpet. The jerrycan [Second World War] does come from Jerry—it was originally used by Germans, but was adopted by the Allies in the Second World War.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: jer·ry-built

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