jerk

noun
\ 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

jerk

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

jerk

verb (2)
jerked; jerking; jerks

Definition of jerk (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Much of it works charmingly, thanks to Mr. Mortensen’s improbable buoyancy: Tony is clearly a stout-hearted guy, as well as a slob and a jerk. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘Green Book’ Review: Trying to Get Along," 15 Nov. 2018 Up to 50,000 people participate in Carnival Monday, called the Grand Finale, after which there are even more parties, and food stands serving up jerk chicken and roti. Kristin Braswell, Vogue, "The Caribbean Carnivals You Don’t Want to Miss This Summer," 24 June 2018 Across the way, another Central City restaurant, 14 Parishes, is serving jerk chicken and rice. Ann Maloney, NOLA.com, "Pythian Market dishes out food from around the world: Opening alert," 1 June 2018 Gold skewers or wooden skewers to serve the jerk chicken? Jason Parham, WIRED, "Welcome to the Social Media ‘Black Power Kitchen’ of Tomorrow," 29 May 2018 His poultry chapter includes recipes for Caribbean jerk chicken, fiery African piri-piri chicken and Indian tandoori chicken. Barry Estabrook, WSJ, "Summer Books: Food," 23 May 2018 Coming up: lamb asado, piri piri turkey, barbacoa, pollo a la brasa, yakitori, jerk chicken, beef pastrami and whole-animal barbecues. Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Iron Grate BBQ growing with specials, whole-animal butchering," 8 Mar. 2018 In my case, hurricane Tim (pun intended) was a jerk, which embarrassed me a lot. Timothy Morton, The Atlantic, "The Hurricane in My Backyard," 8 July 2018 Others have included jerk chicken and seasonal dishes such as schnitzel and dumplings for Octoberfest or corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day. Donna Vickroy, Daily Southtown, "In the kitchen with the Bartolini brothers, whose spaghetti and meatballs are 'No. 1 in Illinois'," 7 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The tear-jerking trailer, somber music, and family feel already has people assuming this show is This Is Us 2.0. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "The Cast of 'The Village' Will Apparently Make You Cry Even Harder Than 'This Is Us'," 19 Mar. 2019 Use steady, even pressure to pull up without twisting or jerking. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Ticks Are Posing Higher Risks for More People and Pets, According to Experts," 10 Apr. 2019 In addition to deploying the airbags, a vehicle will also trigger seatbelt pretensioners that jerk the seatbelts a couple inches tighter, pulling passengers into their seats. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Seat belt fires spark recall of two million Ford F-150 trucks," 6 Sep. 2018 The chain brake can be engaged in three ways: by releasing the throttle trigger lockout, by pushing the hand guard forward, or if something jerks the saw, which is called kickback. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "Watch Us Take Apart a Chainsaw Into 297 Pieces," 24 June 2015 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

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.

See More

First Known Use of jerk

Noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about jerk

Dictionary Entries near jerk

jerfalcon

jerican

Jericho

jerk

jerk around

jerkin

jerkingly

Statistics for jerk

Last Updated

10 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for jerk

The first known use of jerk was in 1575

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for jerk

jerk

noun

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

jerk

verb
\ 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.

jerk

noun

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

jerk

noun
\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

using a distributed computer network

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!