\ ˈjərk How to pronounce jerk (audio) \

Definition of jerk

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : an annoyingly stupid or foolish person was acting like a jerk
b : an unlikable person especially : one who is cruel, rude, or small-minded a selfish jerk
2 : a single quick motion of short duration a sudden jerk gave the handle a jerk
3a : jolting, bouncing, or thrusting motions
b : a tendency to produce spasmodic motions
4a : an involuntary spasmodic muscular movement due to reflex action
b jerks plural : involuntary twitchings due to nervous excitement
5 : the pushing of a weight from shoulder height to a position overhead : the second phase of the clean and jerk in weight lifting


verb (1)
jerked; jerking; jerks

Definition of jerk (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to give a quick suddenly arrested push, pull, or twist to jerk a rope
2 : to propel or move with or as if with a quick suddenly arrested motion jerked the door open
3 : to mix and serve (drinks, such as sodas) behind a soda fountain

intransitive verb

1 : to make a sudden spasmodic motion Her hand jerked up suddenly.
2 : to move in short abrupt motions or with frequent jolts


verb (2)
jerked; jerking; jerks

Definition of jerk (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

: to preserve (meat) in long sun-dried slices

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Other Words from jerk

Verb (1)

jerker noun

Synonyms for jerk

Synonyms: Noun

bastard, beast, bleeder [British], blighter [chiefly British], boor, bounder, bugger, buzzard, cad, chuff, churl, clown, creep, cretin, crud [slang], crumb [slang], cur, dirtbag [slang], dog, fink, heel, hound, joker, louse, lout, pill, rat, rat fink, reptile, rotter, schmuck [slang], scum, scumbag [slang], scuzzball [slang], skunk, sleaze, sleazebag [slang], sleazeball [slang], slime, slimeball [slang], slob, snake, so-and-so, sod [chiefly British], stinkard, stinker, swine, toad, varmint, vermin

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Examples of jerk in a Sentence


That jerk can't do anything right. Most of the kids are nice, but some are jerks. The dead branch came loose after a few jerks. He felt the jerk of the line as a fish took the bait. The car started with a jerk.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But your buddy Jason is happy to sound like a crass jerk! Jason Gay, WSJ, "Expand the Playoff, College Football," 16 Dec. 2018 In trying to act more like him, my instinctual reaction was to behave like a constantly aggrieved, entitled, and petulant jerk. Luke O'neil, Esquire, "I Followed Bill O'Reilly's Tips of the Day to Fix My Life," 5 Jan. 2018 Here's how to talk about wine without sounding like a pompous jerk. Sam Dangremond, Town & Country, "How to Talk About Wine Without Sounding Like a Jerk," 7 Dec. 2016 Seeing Eli stare down a bunch of jerks while holding the raygun, his diminutive stature backlit by hot pink lights, feels like a triumphant hero moment à la Eleven saving Mike from the bullies in Stranger Things. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "Kin: If you can’t pick your family, hopefully you can find space weapons," 1 Sep. 2018 All of Patty's wrath is directed at the fact her husband is a weak, lying jerk., "TV Loves Calling Out Cheaters Right Now," 10 July 2018 Finally, Coyle talks about why great cultures are so intolerant of brilliant jerks. Neil Senturia,, "Creating a feeling of belonging is critical to your company's success," 25 June 2018 In other words, unfortunately, jerks may always be with us. Glenn Geher, WSJ, "The Dark Triad and the Evolution of Jerks," 6 Dec. 2018 Isaac was a jerk who hit Janine in the jaw with his rifle butt, was rude to June and Rita, had somewhat more lines of dialogue than Boba Fett and was somewhat less compelling. Rena Gross, Billboard, "'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 2, Episode 12 Recap: 15 Reactions to 'Postpartum'," 4 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

And the fact that Heath Ledger is no longer with us certainly ups the tear-jerking factor. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "15 Sad Movies for When You Need Something to Cry About," 3 Oct. 2018 Twisting or jerking the tick can cause parts to break off, and the agitation might make the pest salivate more, potentially releasing more disease-causing bacteria into the bite wound. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Everyone Needs to Assemble a "Tick Kit" This Summer," 21 June 2017 The pilot suddenly jerks the nose of the Su-35 straight up and then the plane flips around in midair while momentum still carries it forward. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "This Su-35 Flight Demo Will Make Your Head Explode," 20 July 2017 Head spinning, leg holding and body jerking have all iconically dominated the appeal of breakdancing since its inception. Amira Rasool, Teen Vogue, "Red Bull's BC One World Is Giving Female Breakdancers the Platform They Deserve," 29 Sep. 2018 The appearance of a bird, and then a dragonfly, caused them to jerk their heads in unison and follow the flight path in the sky until the winged creatures disappeared from view. Jan Hefler,, "Endangered penguins splash it up in new digs at Camden's Adventure Aquarium," 16 May 2018 One pointed out that former Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Jacqueline Schellinger, well known for erratic behavior, found a juror in contempt and fined her $500 for responding to an order by jerking her head back and rolling her eyes. Daniel Bice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bice: Supreme Court candidate once ordered 71-year-old juror to jail for courtroom outburst," 19 Feb. 2018 For example, there’s a subroutine that smooths the movement of the stick figures so the dancers don’t jerk about too much, and a completely separate neural network dedicated to re-tracing the target’s face to ensure realism. James Vincent, The Verge, "Deepfakes for dancing: you can now use AI to fake those dance moves you always wanted," 26 Aug. 2018 The malfunctions resulted in two minor injuries, after the bus’s brakes suddenly engaged and the bus jerked to a stop, the agency said. Martine Powers, Washington Post, "Metro pulls 10 percent of its bus fleet from service after mysterious engine failure," 28 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'jerk.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of jerk


1575, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Verb (1)

1589, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Verb (2)

1707, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for jerk

Noun and Verb (1)

probably alteration of yerk

Verb (2)

back-formation from jerky entry 1

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Learn More about jerk

Dictionary Entries near jerk





jerk around



Statistics for jerk

Last Updated

15 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for jerk

The first known use of jerk was in 1575

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More Definitions for jerk



English Language Learners Definition of jerk

informal : a stupid person or a person who is not well-liked or who treats other people badly
: a quick pull or twist
: a sudden sharp movement


\ ˈjərk How to pronounce jerk (audio) \
jerked; jerking

Kids Definition of jerk

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to give a quick sharp pull or twist to She jerked the dog's leash.
2 : to move in a quick motion He jerked his head.



Kids Definition of jerk (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a short quick pull or jolt … he gave the rope a vicious jerk.— C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
2 : a foolish person


\ ˈjərk How to pronounce jerk (audio) \

Medical Definition of jerk

: an involuntary spasmodic muscular movement due to reflex action especially : one induced by an external stimulus — see knee jerk

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More from Merriam-Webster on jerk

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with jerk

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for jerk

Spanish Central: Translation of jerk

Comments on jerk

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


a shady place in a garden or forest

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