“Local engineers knew even during construction that the canal upgrade was a bit of a jackleg job.” — Christopher Cooper and Robert Block,Disaster, 2006
a : characterized by unscrupulousness, dishonesty, or lack of professional standardsb : lacking skill or training : amateur
: designed as a temporary expedient : makeshift
Bill’s only a jackleg carpenter, but he is sufficiently competent to handle less complex jobs.
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Did You Know?
Don’t call someone jackleg unless you’re prepared for that person to get angry with you. Throughout its 165-year-old history in English, jackleg has most often been used as a term of contempt and deprecation, particularly in reference to lawyers and preachers. Its form echoes that of the similarblackleg, an older term for a cheating gambler or a worker opposed to union policies. Etymologists know that blackleg appeared over fifty years before jackleg, but they don’t have any verifiable theories about the origin of either term.