Imagine you are surviving in the wilderness traveling in a wandering manner. You've found this landscape that is wonderfully abundant in food and basking in a very favorable climate. Therefore, you decide that this is your new residence.

Night is approaching, so you haphazardly piece together a makeshift shelter to make for a more enjoyable living experience while you get your act together.

This shelter is only temporary. After you've become familiar with the land and have gathered finer resources, you will begin creating a proper home complete with securities, amenities, and furnishings.

The word I am looking for is an adjective meaning something similar to "created recklessly for temporary use."

The shelter you were building on your first night was a(n) ________ abode.

The words and phrases "ad-hoc", "off the cuff", "on the run" came to my mind, but none of those are understood to mean what I am trying to communicate (in fact, two of them are not even close). If you think of a word with a meaning that you believe to be similar to what I am searching for, I'd love to hear from you!

Thank you.

  • 17
    Recklessly is the wrong word here: if an action is reckless, it is risky and foolish. Building a makeshift shelter is neither risky nor foolish.
    – TonyK
    Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 20:24
  • 3
    VTC as "Unclear what you're asking". I have no idea if you really want the word to connotate "recklessly" or not. As @TonyK says, "recklessly" is probably the wrong word here, as none of the rest of your detailed question has anything remotely connected to "reckless". I posted a comment earlier asking for clarification, but it's been summarily deleted by a mod without a response from you.
    – AndyT
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 10:15
  • 4
    The question is protected, so I don't have enough reputation to post an answer, but I'd definitely upvote an answer proposing "provisional", for which the first definition Google provides is "arranged or existing for the present, possibly to be changed later." Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 20:41
  • 10
    I'm a programmer, recklessly creating things for temporary use is essentially my job description.
    – Jason C
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 15:52
  • 2
    @JoshuaTaylor's "provisional" is pretty great. Also "stand-in". Many of the ones below highlight the shoddiness but not the temporariness... Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 13:16

19 Answers 19


Your own term, makeshift, works here. The dictionary entry provides several examples. I've selected one that relates to the context you provided.

Makeshift adjective Acting as an interim and temporary measure. ‘About 109,000 people are living in makeshift shelters made from blue and white plastic sheeting.’ - ODO

  • 5
    I can recall several occasions where astronauts created make-shift and jury-rigged solutions to serious problems. None of those solutions were done recklessly or without regard to any hazards. Out of necessity they were quite the opposite, but were make-shift and jury-rigged nevertheless. Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 15:54
  • 1
    @CanisLupus Agreed that makeshift dwellings might have been constructed in a non-reckless manner. However, since the OP is after an adjective to describe the dwelling rather than the construction activity, perhaps some latitude can be allowed.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 16:13
  • @CanisLupus As pointed out repeatedly in the comments, the question contradicts itself, since the desire to put up any kind of shelter whatsoever means that you do have regard for the hazards of being exposed. If "reckless" was supposed to indicate hasty construction without regard for quality, then makeshift would not be my choice, but there is no answer if you take the question literally.
    – David K
    Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 15:01

jury-rigged (from jury-rig)

to erect, construct, or arrange in a makeshift fashion


to build or put together (a simple device or structure) using the materials that you have available


The term is originally from a nautical context to describe a temporary fix, but has come into wider use for any type of make-shift contrivance or repair.

  • 18
    For ever-so-slightly different connotations, consider jerry-rigged.
    – alex_d
    Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 6:57
  • 1
    I've also seen just "rigged" or "rig job" used.
    – barbecue
    Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 21:59
  • 1
    my feeling is that jury-rigged/jerry-rigged strongly implies recklessness (as opposed to makeshift.) great answer!
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 19:22


(adv.) in a hasty, haphazard manner: He assembled the motor slapdash.

(adj.) hasty and careless; offhand: a slapdash answer. (Dictionary.com)

This definition tacitly implies that the creation is not likely remain intact or of much use for long.

Slapdash combines slap and dash:

slap is to put or place promptly and sometimes haphazardly (Dictionary.com #7).

dash is to do something quickly or roughly (Dictionary.com #4 and #10).

  • 6
    I think this is the best answer provided so far. It indicates not only that the work is makeshift or temporary, but also that it's done hastily and without regard for accepted standards of quality, probably in response to an emergency.
    – barbecue
    Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 22:28
  • 5
    I think slapdash emphasizes carelessness, whereas jury-/jerry-rigged and makeshift emphasize minimal resources. Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 14:20
  • 1
    Sorry, Canis, I don't think this is right. It doesn't imply temporary at all - it just indicates the quality of the work and perhaps the attitude of the perpetrator. I've seen slapdash work hanging around causing pain for decades. In the questioner's scenario, my shelter would be makeshift and jury-rigged, but definitely not slapdash.
    – SusanW
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 15:34
  • 1
    @SusanW I've seen makeshift and jury-rigged repairs that ended up hanging around for decades too. Just sayin'...
    – barbecue
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 15:40
  • 1
    @barbecue yeah, too true, same here! :-) Hmm, there definitely a thing that slapdash is derogatory in terms of workmanship; excessively careless, regardless of circumstances. Is this an irregular verb? I improvise, you jury-rig, and he's slapdash...
    – SusanW
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 16:49

In UK English we have the word Bodge


[WITH OBJECT] British informal Make or repair (something) badly or clumsily. ‘the door was bodged together from old planks’

This generally implies a task which is done hastily or inelegantly but is at least barely adequate. This doesn't necessarily imply that the person doing the task is incompetent but that they didn't have the time, resources or inclination to do anything better.

The word comes from the traditional craft of the Bodging, making tools and furniture from unseasoned wood, especially items turned on a pole lathe. The sense here is that the items were made cheaply and quickly rather than badly as such.

Note that this is distinct from botched which does imply that a task was carried out incompetently.

Alternatively the word hasty can be use as an adjective to describe something produced as quickly as possible. Saying you built a hasty shelter would certainly fit what you have in mind.


A frequently used word in this context is improvised.

The shelter you were building on your first night was a(n) improvised abode.




1.1 Done or made using whatever is available; makeshift.

‘we slept on improvised beds’

‘Someone is apparently being evacuated from an improvised shelter.’

Also, crude may work.




2 Constructed in a rudimentary or makeshift way.

‘The training facility was large, but seemed fairly crude, and in disrepair


In the tech world at least, we'd probably use the term hack.

From the hacker culture mainstay, the Jargon File:

  1. n. Originally, a quick job that produces what is needed, but not well.

To a professional engineer, a solution that isn't done "well" adds to technical debt, and so has an implied temporary nature.

So to complete your example, we might say:

The shelter you were building on your first night was a hack.

Note that some may consider a "hack" to require an aspect of cleverness, so it may not be a perfect fit.

  • I think that you hit on the problem with "hack" quite well: To me, it has two related but distinct meanings, namely "creatively exploring un-anticipated behaviors of complex systems" (e.g. the GPL is a hack of the copyright system) and the one you quoted. You should always either qualify it further ("beautiful hack", "quick hack") or it should be absolutely clear from context which one you mean. Your example sentence does that very well. Only the former definition requires cleverness, ingenuity, and creativity. For the latter definition, cleverness is actually seen as a negative, since we … Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 9:30
  • … aspire for code to be clear, unambiguous, easy to understand, easy to follow, simple, and concise – cleverness is usually not what you want. Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 9:31
  • 3
    Of course, in many, many projects, “temporary hacks” have a tendency to end up permanent... but then I would guess that’s often the case for all kinds of “temporary” solutions.
    – KRyan
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 14:02
  • 3
    Isn't that a kludge, not a hack? Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 22:30
  • 1
    Hack is also used to refer to a writer who quickly produces low-quality output, and hack work can mean such output as well.
    – barbecue
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 15:44

You might consider the informal word kludge, implying something that's functional, but poorly planned and haphazardly assembled.

Oxford Living Dictionaries defines it as:

(also cludge, kluge)

An ill-assorted collection of parts assembled to fulfill a particular purpose.

‘Such a database would be a kludge of existing databases; databases that are incompatible, full of erroneous data, and unreliable.’

‘The vertebrate eye does very well indeed, but it is a kludge.’

‘On the corner of Eversholt Street and Euston is a St Pancras New Church, a neo-classical kludge which at the time of its construction in 1822 was the most expensive church building since St Paul's.’

‘It wouldn't have been perfect, but it almost certainly would have been better than the kludge we're ending up with.’

According to the same dictionary, it can also be used as a verb:

‘I initially coded the blog's template by kludging together a lot of stuff without really knowing what I was doing.’

‘So there is nothing that the Google desktop offers I can't already kludge.’

‘The details aren't specific, and feel a little kludged.’

‘The original network - I'm sure our technologists wouldn't like this - but it was kludged together through landlines’

‘Thus you either change the new code, or try and kludge the old code, or hack around the old code with a whole new bit.’

‘It's well worth taking the time to add extra comments and clean up any kludged code.’

‘One can add a middle initial, but this is just kludging it.’

Although kludge has its origins in computer slang, according to its Wikipedia article, This term is used in diverse fields such as computer science, aerospace engineering, Internet slang, evolutionary neuroscience, and government.

  • 1
    This is definitely from computer slang, but really embodies the intent I think. "hack" definitely doesn't as it includes the idea of cleverness. Altough, kludges though ugly, and even "stupid", can often be highly effective. (which might run counter to the intent)
    – ebyrob
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 14:36

There's also ramshackle:

1: appearing ready to collapse : rickety
2: carelessly or loosely constructed a ramshackle plot
from m-w.com

This has the added benefit, to my mind, of containing the syllable "shack" right there in the middle, thus linking it to your idea of a small, temporary building. (Although this is, etymologically speaking, entirely coincidental; ramshackle apparently derives from the word ransack.)

  • 6
    I always hear ramshackle to describe once-sturdy structures in a state of disrepair. Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 17:07

impromptu adjective (dictionary.com)

1.made or done without previous preparation: an impromptu address to the unexpected crowds.

2.suddenly or hastily prepared, made, etc.: an impromptu dinner.

3.improvised; having the character of an improvisation.

" The shelter you were building on your first night was an impromptu abode.

  • Impromptu doesn't seem to convey the meaning of recklessness ask for in the question. Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 3:43
  • reckless means without caution; careless that's synonymous enough with hastily prepared. Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 3:56
  • Impromptu means without forethought or prior planning, but does not mean poor quality or unreliable. It's perfectly possible for an impromptu action to be of high quality.
    – barbecue
    Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 21:57

Just to provide another option, you could use throwaway

(adj) Denoting or relating to products that are intended to be discarded after being used once or a few times.

(n) A thing intended to be discarded after brief use.

Oxford Dictionary

In your example:

The shelter you were building on your first night was a throwaway abode.

It doesn't explicitly cover something poorly constructed, but that is often implied within the context.


The phrase you're looking for is ad hoc:

ad hoc created or done for a particular purpose as necessary

ad hoc for the particular end or case at hand without consideration of wider application

Another word that accurately telegraphs such an intent is expedient:

expedient convenient and practical although possibly improper or immoral

expedient Something contrived or used to meet an urgent need

expedient Suitable or efficient for accomplishing a purpose

  • 6
    "Ad hoc" is listed as a not-quite-right answer in the original post.
    – Evan Davis
    Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 15:40

Another term is lash-up (N) (dictionary.com):

  1. a hastily made or arranged device, organization, etc.
  2. any improvised arrangement.

In your example sentence: The shelter you were building on your first night was a lash-up -- but at least it kept the rain off

  • The British definition is even better: "temporary connection of equipment for experimental or emergency use" Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 19:44
  • @HonoredMule I get the impression it's a predominantly British phrase. But that's just an impression.
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 19:53

You might consider the word cobbled

"Roughly produced or assembled from available parts or elements"


If you don't mind being vulgar, half-assed or half-arsed could be used in the example sentence. It means haphazard, done without care or proper effort, and is a possible synonym for other answers already provided.

It's not a great choice, because it usually means that the work was low quality due to lack of interest or effort rather than urgency.

"The camp counselor said I had to make a shelter, so I built a half-assed lean-to from a broom and a shower curtain."

  • These terms only describe the quality of effort, without clarifying permanency of the result. Crude language is rarely going to offer sufficient nuance when it is by definition sloppy and imprecise. Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 23:24
  • Yep, and that's why I said that in the answer itself. However I disagree that the vulgarity itself being sloppy and imprecise somehow makes it unsuitable for conveying sloppiness and imprecision.
    – barbecue
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 15:21
  • It can certainly can, but such uses convey information about the vulgarity's source, not its subject/object. A "f*cking canoe" only offers clarification of "canoe" if I literally mean "canoe designed or designated for copulating." Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 19:27
  • What you describe is essentially the reason I used "rarely" rather than "never." Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 19:40
  • However "that f-ing canoe" can mean "the canoe which is the current target of my ire."
    – barbecue
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 20:30

This might work:

Janky (also jank) - adjective
Of extremely poor or unreliable quality.

  • 'the software is pretty janky’
  • 'there's hardly anywhere to eat other than a janky food court’
  • 'the car is embarrassing to drive because it's so jank’

Helter-skelter (MW)

in undue haste, confusion, or disorder

in a haphazard manner


Like many of the other suggestions here in the phrase "field expedient" does not necessarily imply recklessness, lack of care or insufficiency, but does cover cases where one is forced to make do with whatever tools and materials are at hand.

And it fails to be a single word, but it is used as an adjective and can lend a connotation of 'the best that could be managed' to a description that might otherwise carry a whiff of 'unprofessional'.

  • 1
    The adjective would be expidious, if you can use the word without thinking of powdermilk biscuits.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 16:30


(also proposed by Joshua Taylor as a comment)

From the ODO:


1) Arranged or existing for the present, possibly to be changed later.


ODO examples include:

‘It was a kind of empire built on very provisional and tentative things that might happen.’

‘In the meantime, the provisional festival programme has thrown up some intriguing possibilities for a couple of good nights on the town.’

Your example would read:

The shelter you were building on your first night was a provisional abode.


Growing up and maybe it's where I'm from (East Coast, VA), the expression I've always used, and most commonly hear anyone say is:

"Quick and dirty"

For example, I'm a former Firefighter and when I was in Recruit School one of the instructors would always say it if we were in the field on a practical day and someone was being too timid or overly 'perfect' about a walking extinguisher drill, he'd yell that out. That was when basically two rows of controlled fire lit left and right of you and you walk down the middle extinguishing side to side to get through in order to reach an unconcious patient at the other end. If a person stood there hitting each row slow and really laying into the ABC until he didn't even see an ember, it was always,


And to clarify, most often 'version' kinda tags it's way along. As above, 'quick and dirty version'. In my head it just implies every second counts, and get done just enough with whatever is hindering you from achieving the primary goal, whether it's getting to a patient, or in proposed scenario of yours, throwin' together a quick and dirty version of the shelter. Ah and I forgot also, almost always you'll hear just following that "it doesn't have to be perfect." Well, either preceeding or following, you'll hear it both ways.

That extra phrase kinda drives the point home that the most important thing is that you get it made or a job done, even if it's the worst possible version of it, as the worst shelter is better than no shelter at nightfall when the temperature drops or there is a need for concealment.

Sorry for the long-winded explanation, just wanted to make it as clear as I could why it seems appropriate, and give a really black-and-white experience of mine for context regarding it's nuance. Hope this fits in with what you were going for. It's literally what I would personally say without thinking if we were in a situation like that together.


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