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JURY-RIG

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JURY-RIG

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Aug 02, 2007 10:57 pm

• jury-rig •

Pronunciation: jU-ri-rig • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: To improvise a temporary repair or substitute, to cobble together something from unlikely parts. (Jury-rigging in the sense of rigging a jury is quite a different matter, a rather illegal one.)

Notes: Today's word is a compound verb, a form less prevalent than compound nouns and adjectives but still a regular tool for creating new words (see also freeze-dry, vacuum-pack, field-test). Under the influence of jerry-build "make shoddily", some speakers are already converting today's word into jerry-rig. This process is called 'folk etymology', modifying a word that does not make sense to one that does (more or less). Another example is the change of crayfish into craw[l]fish because cray has no meaning in English.

In Play: Whenever you create something out of materials normally not used in making it, you are jury-rigging in today's sense of the word: "Thousands of Russian farmers jury-rigged satellite antennas out of scrap wood and chicken wire to watch Miss Russia in the Miss Universe Pageant." Yes, I just made that one up. Here is another I made up: "When Feldstein's dog lost his leg in a car accident, Feldstein jury-rigged a wooden leg on casters that works pretty well."

Word History: Today's Good Word was a gift of the British Navy centuries ago. It most probably came from the Old French word ajurie "help, assistance" from the verb aider "help, aid" (also the origin of the distress signal May Day). The original jury-rigging was a jury-mast, a temporary mast erected on a sailing ship when the original mast had broken. Old French aider came from Latin adiuvare "to help", made up of ad "to(ward)" + iuvare "to help". (No, Lew Jury is not the eponym of this word; Lew just suggested we run it in the Good Word series.)
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another folk etymology

Postby dougsmit » Fri Aug 03, 2007 5:56 am

Some days we learn more than others. I am in the camp of those confusing jerry and jury in this sense but I always associated the concept of make-shift repairs with the political term 'gerrymander' named for its inventor, Mr. Gerry. This stems from the word not being one used in written form as often as in speech so 'gerryrig' would seem appropriate to mean 'to fix in an expedient manner'. Thanks for the clarification.
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Postby scw1217 » Fri Aug 03, 2007 8:38 am

Interesting word history. I am actually relieved that it's history was "clean". I had always thought it was a racial term (and not one I participated in btw.)
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Re: JURY-RIG

Postby engineer27 » Fri Aug 03, 2007 9:34 am

Dr. Goodword wrote:• jury-rig •

The original jury-rigging was a jury-mast, a temporary mast erected on a sailing ship when the original mast had broken.


It seems that "jury-rigging," rather than applying to the jury-mast itself, refers to the "rigging," the rope, tackle, etc. speedily attached to the jury-mast. There is even a well-known knot specifically named for its utility in rigging a jury-mast (which generally would not have the appropriate rings pullys attached to it) see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_mast_knot.
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Postby Perry » Fri Aug 03, 2007 11:24 am

Thanks for the link. I think that this is not general knot knowledge.
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Postby engineer27 » Fri Aug 03, 2007 11:40 am

Perry wrote:Thanks for the link. I think that this is not general knot knowledge.


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Re: JURY-RIG

Postby gailr » Fri Aug 03, 2007 3:26 pm

engineer27 wrote:It seems that "jury-rigging," rather than applying to the jury-mast itself, refers to the "rigging," the rope, tackle, etc. speedily attached to the jury-mast. There is even a well-known knot specifically named for its utility in rigging a jury-mast (which generally would not have the appropriate rings pullys attached to it) see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_mast_knot.

Interesting link; if those knots were pulled snug they might make fetching frogs. Would that be jury-rigging a closure?

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Jury v. Jerry/Gerry

Postby Slava » Sat Aug 04, 2007 12:33 am

Folk etymology here, but my thoughts are that one of the roots of the confusion is the idea of the j/gerry can of WWII days. Since things at that time had to be fixed up any way they could, perhaps by extension this has led to the blending of the phrases?

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Postby Perry » Mon Aug 06, 2007 11:45 am

I think not. Jury rigged goes back to 1788.
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