Friday, July 24, 2009

Souped-up and jury-rigged

I recently discovered two phrases which I had all wrong. I know that I've smugly thought other people were wrong when they used these phrases correctly, so as penance I did a little research.

  • Jury-rig: I knew people used "jury-rig" to mean the same thing as "jerry-rig", that is, something that is improvised or hastily fixed. But I thought "jury-rig" derived from a clueless mispronunciation of jerry-rig. In fact, as best I can determine from the intertubes, both are valid phrases, jury-rig deriving from a sailing term. But jerry-rig refers to German improvisation in wartime, and is pejorative. So, jury-rig, the one I thought was a mistake, is not just correct, but a better term to use. I think "jerry-rig" is just the way I first heard it used.
  • Souped-up: When people spelled it "soup", I'd secretly smile. They were confused, I thought. I was sure the proper way was "suped-up", as in "to make super." But nope, Merriam-Webster and other sources use "souped-up." My reverse etymology failed.
There, I feel better now.

1 comment:

  1. So you hung out with a bunch of anti-German types? The sort who throw around hurtful terms like "jerry-rig" and casually drop the dreaded "K-word" into conversation?

    Does Tanya know about this sordid part of your past?