jit·​ney ˈjit-nē How to pronounce jitney (audio)
plural jitneys
: an unlicensed taxicab
[from the original 5 cent fare] : bus sense 1a
especially : a small bus that carries passengers over a regular route on a flexible schedule

Did you know?

Jitneys weren't worth a dime—just a nickel. In the early 1900s, jitney was slang for "nickel," but it wasn't long before the term was applied to a new mode of public transportation that only cost a nickel. When they were introduced in American cities at the beginning of the century, vehicular jitneys could be any automobiles that carried passengers over a set route for a cheap fare, but eventually the term was applied specifically to small buses—and, nowadays, to the motor shuttles used by airlines and hotels). In the mid-1900s, the word jitney was combined with jeep to create a new coinage: jeepney, meaning "a Philippine jitney bus converted from a jeep."

Examples of jitney in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The measure also includes small changes to Houston's pedicab and jitney industries. Jay R. Jordan, Chron, 17 May 2022 Keelboats, jitney cars, horseless carriages, street cars, a railroad train, fire engine, skyway and even the Adm. Joe Fowler Sternwheeler on the Rivers of America all serve as people-movers. Roger Simmons, orlandosentinel.com, 1 Oct. 2021 Simon Berry started a jitney service that catered to Greenwood's Black community, who were barred from using White taxi services. Jazmin Goodwin, CNN, 16 May 2021 The seed for Lyft was planted when Logan Green, a California university student, saw jitney buses picking up passengers in Zimbabwe. Daniel Yergin, WSJ, 23 Apr. 2021 Sharon Kay Penman was born on Aug. 13, 1945, in New York City and raised in Atlantic City, where her father, William J. Penman, waited tables and drove a jitney. Clay Risen, BostonGlobe.com, 29 Jan. 2021 On July 20, 1916, The Chronicle ran an editorial supporting a jitney bus ban from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. Bill Van Niekerken, SFChronicle.com, 15 Jan. 2020 There is a motif of animals transported on vehicles, such as a placid duck riding in the back of a jitney and a nervous sheep in a cage being hauled by a tractor. Peter Keough, BostonGlobe.com, 5 July 2018 For travel to Jersey City and New York, many residents rely on the jitney buses that run along several of Union City’s north-south arteries, and cost between $1.50 and $5 a ride, depending on the destination. New York Times, 9 May 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'jitney.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


origin unknown

First Known Use

1886, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of jitney was in 1886


Dictionary Entries Near jitney

Cite this Entry

“Jitney.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jitney. Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


jit·​ney ˈjit-nē How to pronounce jitney (audio)
plural jitneys
: a small bus that carries passengers over a regular route

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