\ 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

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun So the market might have a knee-jerk reaction to tomorrow’s data and to next week’s consumer price data for May, but that doesn’t mean the Fed will sense more of a need to change anything. Jj Kinahan, Forbes, 3 June 2021 Regarding Smialek previously telling that regardless of Issue 10′s results, the district does plan on closing Parma Senior High School, the superintendent backtracked, noting such a move would be a knee-jerk reaction. John Benson, cleveland, 12 May 2021 As fate would have it, there is one special student in his summer seminar — an arrogant jerk named Evan Parker who refuses to share his work with the class. Maureen Corrigan Washington Post, Star Tribune, 1 June 2021 Fixing the largely for-profit U.S. healthcare system is a massive undertaking, which is probably why few politicians have the stomach to try, and why many adopt knee-jerk opposition to any proposal for meaningful change. Los Angeles Times, 28 May 2021 That might seem a knee-jerk outlier opinion, except for the evidence pointing in that direction. Arkansas Online, 28 May 2021 My knee-jerk answer is those LeBron-Wade-Bosh teams of the early 2010′s. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, 27 May 2021 Orchestral players communicate through a series of semiconscious cues, adjusting their timing to a colleague’s nod or the jerk of an elbow. Justin Davidson, Vulture, 27 May 2021 Collins posted a 400-pound bench press and hoisted 350 pounds over his head in the clean-and-jerk for a 750 total that was the best state meet performance across all three classifications. Buddy Collings,, 19 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Young children tend to jerk their hands and might be accidentally nipped so parental supervision is advised. Iris Katz,, 15 Aug. 2020 Don’t flinch, jerk the trigger, or close your eyes. Ron Spomer, Outdoor Life, 7 Aug. 2020 Try it again, but this time jerk the rod back violently. Mark Hicks, Field & Stream, 22 June 2020 But using a leash to jerk a puppy away from other people or dogs could risk creating negative reinforcements with those interactions. Wes Siler, Outside Online, 11 Apr. 2020 If the driver allows the car to drift just a little too close to a lane marker, the system stabs a front brake and causes the car to jerk back into line. Rich Ceppos, Car and Driver, 6 Feb. 2020 Adoption storylines are often relegated to minor tear-jerking arcs on family soaps like Parenthood and This Is Us, and mostly feature the complications after a child enters the new parents' lives. Robyn Bahr, The Hollywood Reporter, 30 Apr. 2020

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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Statistics for jerk

Last Updated

15 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Jerk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2021.

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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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