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JITNEY

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JITNEY

Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:22 pm

• jitney •

Pronunciation: jit-nee • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A small bus that charges it passengers a small fee, originally only a nickel. 2. An unlicensed taxicab. 3. (Obsolete regionalism) A nickel.

Notes: This is a subspecies of autobus, so you don't hear the word much. People usually just say, "I took a bus." It raises an interesting point of spelling, however. If final Y is preceded by an E, it does not change to I before plural S, as in dummy: dummies, penny: pennies. The plural of today's Good Word is jitneys. It forms its plural like monkeys and donkeys.

In Play: Here is how we use today's Good Word in making up excuses for being late for school, work, or a meeting: "Sorry, I'm late; the jitney was so packed I couldn't board." Another way of using the second meaning: "Sorry, I'm late; I caught a jitney that broke down on the way here." The third meaning became obsolete when the nickel became irrelevant.

Word History: Jitney entered the language from an undisclosed language before 1903. Some have speculated it came from French jeton "token", but no one knows for sure. In any event we do know how the meaning slid over to a vehicle. In San Francisco and other cities small busses that charged only a nickel to ride acquired the name "jitney bus". It didn't take long for that phrase to be shortened to jitney. By 1914 the shorter form was in common use. The word fell on hard times in the 20s and 30s, when it came to mean "anything dilapidated, cheap, or ramshackle" because of its implication of cheapness, as in jitney pianos, jitney paintings, or jitney houses. More recently the word's reputation has been restored as the picture accompanying today's Good Word shows. (Now let's all thank Luke Javan, who sends us no jitney words but only very Good Words like today's.)
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Postby wurdpurrson » Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:29 am

When i lived in the Far East, sometimes the pedicabs were called jitneys, especially in Manila, the Phillipines.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Feb 18, 2012 12:30 pm

My reason for submitting the word, was, as a boy in
elementary school, once a month we had "Jitney Lunch"
which everyone looked forward to, as it was hot dogs,
chips, choc milk and some dessert. Many kids could
not stay for lunch even when they brought their own
unless they lived further than one mile away. So this
gave them a chance to socialize with everyone. I never
understood why it was called "Jitney Lunch" and still
don't unless it was "cheap" and I don't remember the
price for the lunch. It had nothing to do with
busses or trolleys. Still confused.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Postby wurdpurrson » Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:31 pm

Perhaps it was so-named because the box lunches were brought from a central school district kitchen to smaller, outlying schools by a delivery van, or "jitney" bus? This is common practice in many school districts.
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Jitney Lunch

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:32 pm

You're almost there. It was because of the association of jitney with less than optimal because it meant "cheap". It actually acquired the meaning of "crappy" during the 40s and 50s, and still carries the remnants of that meaning today in some speech areas.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:25 pm

I guess that makes sense. We all thoroughly 'loved' it.
It was an exciting day, and all morning we waited
anxiously for our class's chance to be next for lunch.
I know it was prepared in our own school kitchen,
and everyone had to work on it. I remember one
month it was my mother's turn and waving to her
in the kitchen. Dogs were cooked there and we went
along the line with a tray, got dogs, mustard/ketchup
chips, milk and dessert. I especially liked it because
I lived just one short block short of the mile limit
and had to go home for lunch every day. What a
trek that was daily. I don't ever remember the
'crappy' concept in the '50's but if you say so. In
fact I don't think I can remember the term used
anywhere else in this neck of the woods.
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Jitney Again

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:13 am

I guess I should have said, "less than optimal, made of cheap ingredients." It doesn't quite mean "crappy".
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:41 am

Well considering the nutritional value, the Jitney Lunch
was definitely made with "less than optional"
contents. Crappy, maybe not, but considering
the contents of hotdogs (at least what I've heard)
they leave much to be desired. But I eat them
frequently. And I am so glad to finally have the
Jitney Lunch mystery solved.
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