Date: Thu, 19 May 1994 07:54:31 EDT


Subject: Re: Uncl: Question

Hate to douse such an interesting line of speculation, but I'm not convinced

there's any connection between 'jury-rigged' and 'jerry-built', let alone

between either of these and slurs on Germans, much less a bridge between such

a connection and 'on the fritz'. The OED and Farmer & Henley take

'jerry-builder' (whence 'jerry-built') back to the mid-19th; the OED's

earliest citation is 1869, while Farmer & Henley swear that the use of the

term (='run up in the worst materials) stems from 1830's Liverpool.

'Jury-rigged', on the other hand, comes from the jury-mast or temporary mast

rigged up on a ship; the origin of 'jury' in this sense is also unknown

(although the OED finds it necessary to dismiss the suggestion that it's

related to 'injury-mast'). No citations of jury-built, or jerry-rigged, are

given. The OED assumes 'probability' for a derivation of 'jerry-build(er)',

'jerry-built' with some guy named Jerry, they're just not sure which one. As

for 'on the fritz', the OED isn't much help, another 'origin unknown', but

this one (unlike the Liverpudlian 'jerry-built') is 'chiefly U.S.'. I was

surprised to see illustrations of the turn '(put) the fritz on', meaning

something like 'put the kibosh on'; that was a new one on me. Has anyone

heard that?