I used the term “Jerry Rigged” the other day when describing my window coverings in our lodge house. Like most carpenter’s homes our part of the lodge is still “unfinished” in the sense of final touches.
Our bedroom flooring is plywood, our light fixtures are mainly just plain light bulbs and our curtain rods are flimsy sticks of alder. But after I said, “Jerry Rigged” I felt I needed to apologize because I didn’t want to speak poorly of people who are Jewish. Then I was told it wasn’t a derogatory term and I was getting it confused with the act of trying to lower a price, “Jewing it down?”
When looking into the source online I learned “Jerry Built” could have come from a person by the name of Jerry who built something of poor construction possibly dating back to a particular project in Britain.
A popular explanation of “Jerry-Rigged” refers to WWII when the Germans(Gerry’s or Jerry’s) hastily repaired something that wouldn’t last very long if at all.
“Jury-rig” has nothing to do with messing with a Judicial jury but with a temporary mast used for sailing.
So, how could I correctly refer to my window coverings? My curtains have nothing to do with sailing so they can’t be “Jury-Rigged.” Mike and I are both German but we didn’t “build” the curtains to last, we knew it was built just to get by so I think we “Jerry-Rigged” the curtains but I could be wrong.
In any case here’s what I found on Urban Dictionary.
This term was created during WW2, in reference to the Germans who were referred to as “Jerries” as slang. Allies often came across hastily repaired objects left by the Germans hence the term Jerry-Rig came to be.
A derivation of jury-rig, from the nautical term jury mast. This term refers to a temporary mast raised when the normal mast has been lost due to storm or battle. This is probably a short form of injury mast.
And one last explanation…
Some other guesses, although none of them appear to have any substantiating evidence, place the origin as:
– The cheap, flimsy constructs of Jerry Brothers – a Liverpool building firm. (Note: I’ve not been able to confirm the existence of this company).
– The walls of Jericho which, as everyone knows ‘came tumbling down’.
– The Romany word for excrement – ‘gerry’.