\ 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

Other Words from jerk

Verb (1)

jerker noun

Synonyms for jerk

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb (1)

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Examples of jerk in a Sentence

Noun 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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun First of all, his departure wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction. Jenni Carlson, USA TODAY, 8 Aug. 2022 The knee-jerk reaction to Collins’ performance as a rookie is to label him a bust and Keim an idiot for drafting inside linebackers in the first round in consecutive seasons. Kent Somers, The Arizona Republic, 6 Aug. 2022 Resist any knee-jerk reaction to cut all unnecessary marketing expenditures. Candace Nelson, Fortune, 3 Aug. 2022 While the knee-jerk reaction was to downsize during the lockdown in the first three months, resulting in benching and layoffs, jobs quickly returned in bigger numbers. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz, 31 July 2022 Less knee-jerk reaction, more thoughtful slow burn. Cathy Huyghe, Forbes, 30 June 2022 My knee-jerk reaction to who will lead the team in sacks is Stanford transfer Gabe Reid, who played outside linebacker for the Cardinal, but projects as a defensive end for the Utes. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, 22 June 2022 Lovullo thought the ejection call was too quick, as in, a knee-jerk reaction. José M. Romero, The Arizona Republic, 4 May 2022 But Anwar’s proposal drew criticism from several different organizations as a knee-jerk reaction to one incident. Dave Altimari, Hartford Courant, 21 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Do not jerk, as anything that detaches and stays behind could cause an infection. Jacob Livesay, USA TODAY, 7 Aug. 2022 These seizures can make person shake and jerk for up to three minutes, but recovery can take hours. Patti Greco,, 9 Nov. 2021 Smith appeared to quickly jerk twice upward on the gurney as the first drugs hit his system. CBS News, 22 Oct. 2021 Doug Smorin, the boss, at one point sends a private message to Tripp, the office jerk, to thank him for having lunch with a new hire when no one else was physically in the building. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 23 Sep. 2021 Do not twist or jerk the bug, to avoid causing the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 30 June 2021 Do not twist or jerk the tick or use home remedies such as petroleum jelly, heat or waiting for the tick to fall off. Arkansas Online, 22 June 2021 When the deputy begins to handcuff him, Cervantes appears to jerk his arm and body, prompting a struggle. Alene Tchekmedyian, Los Angeles Times, 22 Apr. 2021 The rising tide proved crucial again later Monday morning when workers were finally able to jerk the ship completely off both banks. Los Angeles Times, 28 Mar. 2021 See More

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.

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

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Statistics for jerk

Last Updated

14 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Jerk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for jerk


\ 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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