Share this entry

Share this page


Line breaks: jerry-built
Pronunciation: /ˈdʒɛrɪbɪlt

Definition of jerry-built in English:


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, badly built, gimcrack, flimsy, insubstantial, rickety, unstable, ramshackle, crude, carelessly built, thrown together, makeshift, defective, faulty, flawed;
inferior, poor-quality, second-rate, third-rate, low-grade, cheap, cheapjack
informal tacky, junky
British informal ropy, rubbish, grotty


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).



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.


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.

Definition of jerry-built in:

Share this entry

Share this page


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day Sprachgefühl
Pronunciation: ˈʃprɑːxɡəˌfuːl
intuitive understanding of a language’s natural idiom…