"Jury-rigged", which means "assembled in a makeshift manner", is attested since 1788. It comes from "jury mast", a nautical term attested since 1616 for a temporary mast made from any available spar when the mast has broken or been lost overboard. The OED dubiously recorded a suggestion that this was short for "injury mast", but recent dictionaries say that it is probably from Old French _ajurie_="help or relief", from Latin _adiutare_="to aid" (the source of the English word "adjutant"). "Jerry-built", which the OED defines as "built unsubstantially of bad materials; built to sell but not last" is attested since 1869, and is said to have arisen in Liverpool. It has been fancifully derived from the Biblical city of Jericho, whose walls came tumbling down; from the prophet Jeremiah, because he foretold decay; from the name of a building firm on the Mersey; from "jelly", signifying instability; from French _jour_="day" (workers paid day-by-day considered less likely to do a good job); and from the Romany _gerry_="excrement". More likely, it is linked to earlier pejorative uses of the name Jerry ("jerrymumble", to knock about, 1721; "Jerry Sneak", a henpecked husband, 1764; "jerry", a cheap beer house, 1861); and it may have been influenced by "jury-rigged". "Jerry" as British slang for "a German, especially a German soldier" is not attested until 1898 and is unconnected with "jerry-built".
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