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JURY-RIG

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JURY-RIG

Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:53 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 jury tampering 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, replacing a part of a word that makes no sense with a word that does (more or less).

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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Re: JURY-RIG

Postby MTC » Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:08 am

We are back to bricolage with McGyver, master bricoleur.
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Re: JURY-RIG

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 1:43 pm

I have a friend who can fix anything and every
Christmas I give him a roll of duck/duct tape and
some bailing wire with which he can jury-rig anything.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Re: JURY-RIG

Postby Dunmorebridget » Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:36 pm

I thought the term jerry-rig had reference to the political activities of Eldridge Gerry, as in Gerrymandering?
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Re: JURY-RIG

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:58 pm

Welcome Dunmorebridget.
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Re: JURY-RIG

Postby MTC » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:17 pm

Yes, welcome, Dunmorebridget.

According to Merriam-Webster the origin of jerry-rigged is
"probably (a) blend of jerry-built and jury-rigged
First Known Use: 1959."

As for jerry-built, WordOrigins.org states:

Jerry-built, meaning to temporary or shoddy construction, dates to 1869. The OED2 hazards a guess that it may derive from the name of a builder who was notorious for poor construction. An 1884 source (unconfirmed) says that the phrase is in reference to a particular construction project on the Mersey River in Britain.

The good Dr. G has already explained the origin of jury-rig.

So there you have it, my jerry-rigged answer.
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Re: JURY-RIG

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:14 pm

So which came first, the jerry or the jury?
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Re: JURY-RIG

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:55 am

Dunmorebridget: Welcome to the forum.

Eldridge Gerry has one eponym to his credit, but he had nothing to do with jerry-built. Jerry is a name that simply means anyone, no matter how little her/his talent. It is like every Tom, Dick, and Harry. My family has a talent for building. I have a brother named Jerry. The house he built and the furniture he has made are certainly not jerry-built.
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Re: JURY-RIG

Postby MTC » Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:14 am

Last night on T.V. (News Analysis) I heard McGyver used as a verb. The catchy word has entered our vocabulary, something actor Dean Anderson (McGyver) could not have engineered alone.
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Re: JURY-RIG

Postby gailr » Sun Mar 03, 2013 3:11 pm

Interesting discussion -- I'd always harbored the idea that "jury-rig" meant something put together by trial and error, if you will, indicating that either clear plans, preferred materials, or the right tools weren't available.
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