How Did the Term “Jury-Rigged” For a Temporary Repair Originate and What Does the Phrase Mean?

In the seventeenth century, when a ship’s mast was damaged at sea, a “jury mast” was rigged to hold the sail until the replacement could be found.

Because this was a critical situation the repairs had to be done within a day, or in French un jour, which in this case is the origin of “jury”.

Something jury-rigged is a temporary repair and has nothing to do with “jerry-built,” which means permanent bad work.

The term “jury-rigged” often refers to a temporary repair with whatever is at hand.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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