Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

jerkwater

play
adjective jerk·wa·ter \ˈjərk-ˌwȯ-tər, -ˌwä-\

Simple Definition of jerkwater

  • —used to describe a small town, village, etc., that is out in the country far from cities

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of jerkwater

  1. 1 :  remote and unimportant <jerkwater towns>

  2. 2 :  trivial

Did You Know?

We owe the colorful Americanism "jerkwater" to the invention of the steam engine - an advancement that significantly accelerated travel by rail but also had its drawbacks. One drawback was that the boilers of the early locomotives needed to be refilled with water frequently, and water tanks were few and far between. As a result, the small trains that ran on rural branch lines often had to stop to take on water from local supplies. Such trains were commonly called "jerkwaters" from the motion of jerking the water up in buckets from the supply to the engine. The derogatory use of "jerkwater" for things unimportant or trivial reflects the fact that these jerkwater trains typically ran on lines connecting small middle-of-nowhere towns.

Origin of jerkwater

from jerkwater rural train


First Known Use: 1888


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up jerkwater? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

immature or lacking adult sophistication

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image567572573

Which of these is a synonym of unctuous?

angry oily maudlin prompt
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ