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Unknown. Perhaps from Jalapa, Mexico, to whose scrap yards used cars were often sent from New Orleans starting in the 1920s. First recorded written use in 1924.[1][2]



jalopy (plural jalopies)

  1. (US, dated) An old, dilapidated or unpretentious automobile.
    Synonyms: banger, beater; see also Thesaurus:old car
    • 1957, Jack Kerouac, chapter 1, in On the Road, Viking Press, OCLC 43419454:
      Dean is the perfect guy for the road because he was actually born on the road, when his parents were passing through Salt Lake City in 1926, in a jalopy, on their way to Los Angeles.
    • 2003, Terrance Dicks & Barry Letts, Deadly Reunion, chapter 22:
      There's only a rough track and I doubt if that jalopy of yours will make it.
  2. (US, dated, slang) A hip, cool, groovy automobile.

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ Michael Quinion (1996–2022), “Jalopy”, in World Wide Words.
  2. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2022), “jalopy”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.

Further reading[edit]